Letting a light shine on our democracy

Letting a light shine on our democracy


Opinion
Mal Peters says it's time for the Federal Agriculture, Water Department and Murray Darling Basin Authority to open their books for the independent Royal Commission.

Mal Peters says it's time for the Federal Agriculture, Water Department and Murray Darling Basin Authority to open their books for the independent Royal Commission.

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Mal Peters says it's time for the Federal Agriculture, Water Department and Murray Darling Basin Authority to open their books for the independent Royal Commission.

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Farmers should be concerned that both the Federal Agriculture, Water Department and Murray Darling Basin Authority have sought an injunction in the high court of Australia, so their staff do not have to front up to the South Australia Government water Royal Commission to answer glaring anomalies on their activities. It is a violation of the base principals of democracy raising the very good question if there is nothing to hide why not front up?

Shadow Water Minister Anne Rushton said when the royal commission was announced they had nothing to hide and the Federal Government would appear. The reason it is so troubling is democracy works best when 100 per cent transparency occurs, and farmers can reasonably be disappointed in the Turnbull Government actions.

Following the ABC Four Corners investigation in which a raft of very concerning problems was raised both State and Federal Governments instigated no less than eight inquiries into water administration but sadly none of them could compel witness to appear and subpoena documents as a royal Commission can which history has shown is essential if you want the truth to come out. At the time there was a great deal of pressure brought to bear on the Turnbull Government to institute a Royal Commission at a national level, but they would not do so. I guess the high court injunction now demonstrates why they would not. The South Australian Government did have the courage to establish one, appointing a very highly respected NSW Special council as Commissioner. World war three erupted over four states when the basin plan commenced with farmers having a great deal of concern raising major questions about the accuracy and knowledge of those doing the work. Potentially a Royal Commission would be an independent third-party checking if the process was done correctly.

The raising of spurious notion that states should not be able to hold the Commonwealth Government to account is nonsense as the Basin plan was always about a partnership between the states and the Commonwealth, so it does not show any goodwill on behalf of the Federal Government to thumb their nose at one of their partners.

Public concern is increasing the $12.7 billion dollars may not deliver much change with the balance between the environment and irrigation production stuffed up meaning farmers will have to go through all this again when a new Government calls a Federal Royal Commission to expose all the known issues that have occurred. Surely it is smarter to fix it now. Farmers are left with no choice but to presume that whatever both the Department and MDBA are hiding must be very bad and as the MDBA has lost any trust or credibility of the community in their administration it might be timely for them to open their books and let an independent Royal commission shine a light into their activities.

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