1 February 2019

Damning SA Royal Commission findings make the positions of MDBA Board and Chief Executive untenable

The Federal Government must appoint a new Board and CEO to the Murray Darling Basin Authority after the South Australian Royal Commission found there were “serious doubts” that the current officeholders were “capable of fulfilling their statutory obligations and functions”.

“The position of the Board and senior officials of the MDBA are now untenable,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.

“The Royal Commissioner has found the MDBA acted illegally by failing to use the best available science, ignoring the impacts of climate change, and basing environmental water allocation decisions on politics rather than science.

“These results of their failures are plain to see. The Darling River has running dry and its stagnant pools have become choked by the largest ever fish kills ever recorded.

“Wetlands are dying and the whole ecosystems are on the verge of collapse.

“We call on the federal government to conduct a root-and-branch reform of the MDBA, starting with the removal CEO Phillip Glyde and the Board using a thoroughly transparent selection process to ensure the organization is not capture by special interests.

“We also call on the Federal Government to uphold the fundamental objects of the Commonwealth Water Act by ensuring the system’s ecological health is the primary consideration when developing policies, plans and procedures for the management of the nationals most important river system.”

Ms Smolski said the NSW Coalition Government led by Premier’s O’Farrell, Baird and Berejiklian had actively undermined the Murray Darling Basin.

“Since the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was implemented, the irrigation lobby and their captive National Party politicians have done everything in their power to minimise the amount of water going back to the rivers,” she said.

“Even after mismanagement was exposed by the ABC’s Four Corners, the Berejiklian government’s response, the Water Reform Action Plan, isn’t solving the problems.

“While the National Party controls the state’s water resources, our rivers and wetlands will continue to suffer. 

“Premier Berejiklian should take the portfolio from the Nationals and implement policies that our make our rivers flow.”

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Rivers and wetlands

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