Fresh allegations that water is being ripped-off by rogue irrigators underscores the urgent need for an independent judicial inquiry to ensure the Murray-Darling Basin plan is working to restore our rivers, wildlife and wetlands, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says.

ACF Acting Nature Campaign Manager, James Trezise, said the allegations aired on ABC Lateline last night of questionable floodwater harvesting on the McIntyre River in Queensland is further evidence there are serious problems in the Basin that must be fully investigated.

The floodwater concerns on the McIntyre River follow the revelations on Four Corners last month of special deals and alleged water theft that has seen some massive irrigators on the Barwon-Darling benefit at the expense of the environment and communities.

“We are now seeing repeated allegations of theft and questionable water harvesting across different parts of the Murray-Darling Basin. This is not isolated. This is a basin-wide problem that must be properly investigated,” Mr Trezise said.

“This latest set of allegations suggest the people we trust to oversee the river are asleep at the wheel or turning a blind eye. It is unacceptable for the Turnbull Government to charge the Murray-Darling Basin Authority with marking its own homework.

“The only way the community can have confidence that water in the Murray-Darling Basin is not being ripped off is with a national judicial inquiry independent of government.

 “We need to ensure there are measures available to compel witnesses and sufficiently protect whistle-blowers – which is why the government must launch a separate judicial inquiry into these matters, alongside the current Senate Inquiry.

“If we do not get to the bottom of what is happening on the river in an independent and fearless way then it will be our rivers, and the wildlife and communities that rely on them, that will suffer.”

Tom Arup