Inquiry into MDBP pushes ahead without states

Mick Keelty's inquiry into Murray Darling Basin due in March

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Interim Inspector-General of the Murray-Darling Basin, Mick Keelty will conduct town meetings in coming weeks as part of his inquiry into the management of water resources under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.

Interim Inspector-General of the Murray-Darling Basin, Mick Keelty will conduct town meetings in coming weeks as part of his inquiry into the management of water resources under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.

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Dates for community meetings with Mick Keelty released.

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Federal Water Resources Minister, David Littleproud has asked Interim Inspector-General of the Murray-Darling Basin, Mick Keelty, to push on with an inquiry into the basin plan despite failing to win support from the states.

Mr Keelty's inquiry will look at the impact of changing distribution of inflows in the southern Basin on state shares under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.

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As well as any consequential impacts on state water shares resulting from reserves required under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement; including how these interact with state water allocation policies.

Stakeholders from across the Basin have been invited to have their say on the issues via an online survey and town meetings which will take place from January 21.

The Department of Agriculture website states both the town meetings and online survey completion date were pushed back due to the challenges some communities may be facing with bushfires.

However, the deadline for a report on the results of the inquiry, March 31, 2020, has not changed.

Victoria and South Australia made it clear they were not on board with the review following last month's Ministerial Council meeting in Brisbane.

Victorian Water Minister, Lisa Neville, said her state does not want to be in a position where they were penalised because they run their system in a very conservative way.

"We work within the rules, our message is what are we trying to fix?," Ms Neville said.

Minister Littleproud acknowledged the review would have "less teeth" without all the basin states' support but said he made a commitment to the inquiry with or without them.

Southern Riverina Irrigators chairman and a key organiser of the 'Can the Plan' rally, Chris Brooks said he believed Mr Keelty had sufficient interim power to run a review.

"My interpretation is that he is creating a platform for us to deliver the facts," Mr Brooks said.

"It will allow us to justify our allegations that there has been substantial amounts of water removed from the NSW Murray region, in contravention of the 2007 Water Act and the Murray Darling Basin Authority's own rules.

"My concern is not what Keelty's going to find out, not what he's going to report, it's what Littleproud's going to do about it.

"I'm still looking at Littleproud and saying I hope you've got the authority, the power, the capacity and the will to do something about the report he's going to give you."

The online survey for the inquiry closes on Sunday, January 19.

Below are the dates for the town hall meetings, times and venues are yet to be confirmed.

Swan Hill - January 21

Deniliquin - January 23

Mildura - January 29

Renmark - January 30

Griffith - February 5

Langhorne Creek - February 11

Shepparton - February 13

Albury - February 14

For further information and to access the online survey go to https://haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/inquiry-murray-darling-basin

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