Water Minister Tony Burke must guarantee that neither he nor Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Chair Craig Knowles encouraged Dr Diana Day to resign from the MDBA board, Coalition Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
“Given recent media reports that Mr Knowles has been planning to sideline the board and Mr Burke planning to cleanse the board, this resignation raises further serious questions about political independence in Murray-Darling reform,” Senator Birmingham said.
“This resignation comes on top of revelations last week that Mr Burke appeared to influence the MDBA into changing the recommendations contained in the controversial Guide to the proposed Basin Plan prior to its release last year.
“A credible, expert, independent MDBA is vital to restoring confidence in the Basin reform process.  Mr Burke needs to be transparent about what his intentions are, lest his action further undermine the MDBA board and the chances of Basin reform.
“Mr Burke must today assure Basin communities that he is not seeking to stack the board with ‘yes men’ or worse – even more of his New South Wales Labor mates.
“Mr Knowles, one of Mr Burke’s former NSW Labor ministerial colleagues, must ensure that the MDBA retains both its independence and its expertise if he is to have any hope of rescuing the Basin reform process, which has descended into chaos on Mr Burke’s watch.”