A drip feed of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s draft Basin Plan is in conflict with its stated need for secrecy just a year ago, Coalition Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.
Despite the long overdue proposed Basin Plan having been scheduled now for release on 28 November, reports in recent weeks indicate several aspects have already been leaked with publicly funded broadcaster the ABC now claiming to have seen the whole thing.
“Some of the detail has already leaked, but Lateline has seen the entire plan, which confirms the Murray-Darling Basin Authority will cut the annual water allocation from 2009 levels by 2,800 gigalitres.”
Karen Barlow, Lateline, ABC TV, 17 November 2011
The Authority’s widely criticised Guide to the proposed Basin Plan was released at 4pm on a Friday last October, and via a ‘lock up’ for media and other organisations, “to minimise impacts on financial markets”[1] according to the Authority at the time.
“The Authority should either explain what has changed since last year with regards to secrecy and the impact of information on markets, or now bring forward the release of the draft plan,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“If last year’s Guide was so market sensitive as to require a Friday afternoon ‘lock up’ release, then the steady stream of drip fed leaks of this year’s draft plan – let alone now the flood of apparently the whole document – is just untenable.
“What action has the Authority been taking to stop the leaks, or will it now just bring forward the document’s release so that all Australians with an interest can see it rather than just a select few?”

[1] Authority spokesman Sam Leone, The Australian Financial Review, 21 September 2010