Cropping

Murray-Darling review calls for ‘no meter, no pump’ policy

Grain Central, November 27, 2017

THE Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and Independent Panel have released their review into compliance matters across the Murray–Darling Basin, calling for greater enforcement of water regulations and wider penalties for those found to be stealing water.

The Review comprises two reports, one prepared by the MDBA and one by the Panel.

MDBA chief executive, Phillip Glyde, and Independent Panel member Allan Holmes said the review recommendations were a solid basis for a stronger and more effective compliance regime across the Basin, and would require action from Basin states and the MDBA.

“The illegal take of water is theft—and both reports have found that state regulators must play a more active and assertive role in policing it,” Mr Glyde said.

“We know there are many irrigators across the Basin who do the right thing and abide by the rules—and they deserve to have confidence that their commitment to compliance is not being undermined by those who are breaking the law.

“Our review found that Basin states—particularly New South Wales and Queensland—must do more to increase the robustness, transparency and consistency of compliance and enforcement across the Basin.

“Of particular importance is the implementation of a ‘no meter, no pump’ policy, more transparency of compliance activities, and a more comprehensive suite of penalties that are actually used rather than just sitting on the shelf.

“The Independent Panel says the MDBA needs to be more assertive.  This starts today. We’re committed to acting on all of the recommendations and actions in the Review that are within our remit.”

Mr Holmes said the Independent Panel supported all of the recommendations in the MDBA report and added some of its own.

“We are calling for greater commitment and goodwill from all those involved in implementing the Basin Plan,” he said.

“The 30 June 2019 deadline for revising state water resource plans must be kept, and these plans must ensure that rules are in place to ensure the adequate protection of environmental flows.

“We can’t allow a situation where taxpayer funds are used to recover water for the environment only to have that water extracted further downstream because of a lack of resolve.”

Mr Glyde said that while Basin states would and should remain the primary regulatory authorities, the MDBA would be assertive in escalating matters and exercising its own compliance powers if insufficient action was taken by state authorities.

“All Australians must be able to have trust and confidence in the MDBA’s handling of compliance matters—so we will be more transparent and consistent in how we handle allegations of non-compliance.  We will be revising our compliance and enforcement strategy and framework, providing a clear escalation pathway, and reporting publicly and regularly on handling and progress of compliance matters.”

The review is available here.

Source: MDBA

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