LEON BYNER: Now, ever since John Howard tried to take over the Murray-Darling Basin before Kevin07, there’s been a succession of debates, plans, policies, the appointment of a Murray-Darling Basin Authority, that itself lost its CEO over a matter of legal opinion the Water Act required economic impact to be held in the same account as environmental issues but the Authority’s former chief thought his organisation was essentially environmental and that’s where he came to blows with federal Minister Tony Burke. Victoria and New South Wales are not happy with the amounts of water growers might be expected to part with for the environment.
LEON BYNER: Simon Birmingham is a Liberal Senator who’s been across the water issue for some time. Your observations, Simon, on the delay today?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, Leon and listeners, I’m most concerned about the secrecy in the way this is all being handled and conducted. There’s a real lack of transparency and accountability. This [the proposed Basin Plan] is a plan that was originally due out in the middle of last year. It was then downgraded to a Guide. It was then due out in the middle of this year. It’s been pushed back now for another couple of months and, according to The Advertiser, that’s because of further discussions with New South Wales and Victoria. Well, obviously South Australians would be concerned to know that we should be part of those discussions and that, if there are further concessions being made to those states, it should be transparent as to what they are and what exactly is going on.
LEON BYNER: So what are you going for?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Look, I would be calling for Tony Burke and Craig Knowles, as Chair of the MDBA, to be absolutely clear about what is happening at this point in time. If the work has been finished, then it should be released. Under the Water Act passed by the Howard Government, there is a clear 16-week period for the states to have their say. Obviously they are having their say behind closed doors at present, before that 16-week clock starts. We need to know what’s happening, what those discussions are and why they’re happening outside of the public view.
LEON BYNER: Alright. Well, thank you, Simon Birmingham, this morning.