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Where’s the accountability for Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin?

27 8 3

TWO Royal Commissions reported adverse findings over the past couple of weeks. The report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry triggered the resignation of both the CEO and Chair of the National Australia Bank (NAB), a public recognition of wrongdoing, and a bi-partisan agreement to respond to the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission found that “the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has shown itself to be unwilling or incapable of acting lawfully. That state of affairs exists today, and is the principal reason why there are serious doubts whether the current senior management, and Board, of the MDBA are capable of fulfilling their statutory obligations and functions.”

The Australian Government’s own Productivity Commission Five-Year Assessment on the Basin Plan also found “significant risks to implementation cannot be managed effectively under current institutional and governance arrangements” and that “failing to act will be costly for the environment and taxpayers”.

SEE ALSO: Australia’s Townsville floods demonstrate need for better disaster planning

And the response of the MDBA to these findings? An opinion piece by its CEO proclaiming “the Basin Plan is a world-class policy” and that it is “a world-leading opportunity to protect our iconic rivers”.

In a communique on 6 February, the MDBA Board noted that its retiring Chair “has shown great leadership, perseverance, and energy over four challenging and rewarding years at the helm of the Authority” and thanked him for his “deep commitment to the water reform challenge”.

Further, the Board “rejected the Commission’s findings that the MDBA had been negligent or had acted improperly or unlawfully. The Authority reiterated its full confidence in Chief Executive … and offered its full public support for his leadership of the MDBA and stewardship........

© Asian Correspondent