Murray Darling amendment referred to Auditor General and South Australian Royal Commission

The Australia Institute has written to the Australian Auditor General and to the South Australian Royal Commission on the proposed amendment to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The amendment is scheduled to be voted in the Senate this coming Tuesday, 8 May 2018.

“The proposed amendment is based on 36 projects worth $1.6 billion dollars,” said Maryanne Slattery, Senior Water Researcher at The Australia Institute.

“But, the business cases and costings for the projects have not been made available to the public or the Senators who are to vote on the amendment. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority are now saying that is because the business cases have not been finalised.

“These projects are supposed to deliver equivalent environmental outcomes, using less water than was considered necessary when the Basin Plan was made in 2012.

“$1.6 billion dollars of public money will go to these projects that decrease water for the environment by more than 20%. It beggars belief that Senators are being asked to decide on such an expensive and important amendment when the underlying information is not available. 

“Senators are being asked to take a leap of faith and pass a major change to the Murray Darling Plan without even seeing the evidence to justify it. 

“We believe that there have been several legal, financial and administrative failings in making this amendment, which is why we have asked the Auditor General to undertake an audit of the amendment process.   

“The Australia Institute’s report Desperate Measures found that the amendment has been made unlawfully. We have referred our report to both the Australian Auditor General and the South Australian Royal Commission,” Ms Slattery said.

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