The Gillard Government is fast running out of time for a smooth handover at the helm of Murray-Darling Basin reform, Coalition Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
It is now 45 days since Mike Taylor announced on 7 December that he would leave the role of Chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) at the end of January 2011, now just ten days away.
Mr Taylor’s announcement followed a prolonged and very public dispute with Water Minister Tony Burke over interpretation of the Water Act as it relates to preparation of the Basin Plan.
“In abandoning ship, Mike Taylor still gave the Government plenty of notice to find a new Chair, and allow for a relatively smooth transition,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“Mr Taylor attended all of the Basin Plan Guide community consultation sessions throughout the Basin and would be able to brief his replacement in a way Mr Burke, who avoided attending these meetings, cannot.
“There are now just ten more days of Mr Taylor’s chairmanship.
“Without a replacement in that time, Basin reform is left rudderless with Mr Burke last month having achieved nothing more at a meeting of Basin Water Ministers than a commitment to an undefined ‘new process’.
“The Government continues to spend ever more on buying back water licences of various security levels for questionable benefit while failing to progress water saving infrastructure upgrades and promises of no delays to the Basin Plan timetable are already being broken.
“Julia Gillard’s commitment as recently as two weeks ago to ‘keep on time’ holds no water.
“The Authority is already warning that Government-imposed delays mean timelines cannot be met. Now it is about to have no Chair to steer its path.
“The Government must end this round of uncertainty and appoint a replacement MDBA Chair without delay.”