Water Minister Tony Burke has today failed to address the confusion surrounding the crisis ridden Murray-Darling Basin reform process, Coalition Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
Murray-Darling Basin Water Ministers today met in Albury and have issued a communiqué stating they have “agreed to support a new process for the Basin Plan going forward that will more fully involve state governments and Basin communities.”
“This claimed new process is simply an attempted smokescreen to mask a complete failure to provide any greater clarity or direction to a Basin reform process running off the rails,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Nothing said by Tony Burke or the Ministerial Council fixes the reality that the Authority and the Gillard Government are operating under distinctly different interpretations of the Water Act.
“The most important task for today’s meeting was for Tony Burke to propose a means to end the ambiguity surrounding the Act that was highlighted by Mike Taylor’s resignation as the Authority’s chairman. 
“Instead, Tony Burke is allowing the uncertainty to continue by promising an undefined new process. Sadly, this new process sounds much the same as the old process, just with a couple of months’ delay.
“A claimed new process is unlikely to ease any of the genuine concerns being felt throughout Murray-Darling communities.
“The Government and the Authority remain at loggerheads over interpretation of the Water Act, the Government is spending ever more on buybacks while failing to progress water saving infrastructure, and promises of no delays to the Basin Plan timetable are already being broken.
“Having just completed the latest of many visits to Basin communities I understand that confusion reigns supreme for all of those whose lives are influenced by the Murray-Darling system.
“Today’s meeting provided Tony Burke an opportunity to get the trouble plagued process of Basin reform back on track. Instead, he has passed up the opportunity to show leadership on water reform in favour of a few more soothing words.”