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|The maladministration of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan: Volume 2||488.86 KB|
Former Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty was appointed as the Northern Basin Commissioner in 2018, a position expanded to Basin (interim) Inspector General in 2019. In early December 2019, his first annual report was published. The report fails to even mention some of the most pressing issues in the northern Basin.
A major controversary facing the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is the draining of Menindee Lakes in 2016-17. That decision has contributed to the 2018-19 fish kills, brought forward the end of irrigated horticulture in the Lower Darling/Baaka and denied water to irrigators in the Murray. The Keelty report appears to accept the MDBA’s justification without seeking alternate views. Instead the Keelty report concerns itself with the social media and PR strategies of water agencies at the time of the fish kills.
The report includes no discussion of the half-billion dollar Broken Hill Pipeline, with its long-hidden business case focused on benefits to northern cotton growers and mining companies.
The Inspector General role has been presented as an alternative to a Royal Commission. Governments and irrigation lobby groups that have opposed a Royal Commission now advocate for Mr Keelty to be given the powers of a Royal Commission. The support of these groups for Mr Keelty and his position, juxtaposed with Mr Keelty’s lack of engagement with their critics should gives little confidence that the Basin’s problems will be seriously addressed.