Release: Taxpayers Demand Murray Basin Royal Commission

The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance (ATA), a 75,000+ member national grassroots advocacy group representing the country’s taxpayers, today joined the Australia Institute in calling for a royal commission into the management of the Murray-Darling river basin after last night’s Four Corners program which revealed mismanagement of the irrigation grants scheme.

“Taxpayers have poured billions into managing and restoring the Murray-Darling river basin and all we’ve received in return have been opaque, dubious decisions and millions lost in handouts. All while the nation’s farmers and rural communities struggle through water shortages.” Said Satya Marar, ATA Director of Policy.

“While last night’s Four Corners investigation is a welcome opportunity to launch a Royal Commission into the government’s mismanagement of the basin, the terms of reference must not be drafted too narrowly as this will allow those in power to escape accountability.

 “Taxpayers nationwide should be furious that our hard-earned money has been splashed by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) without any proper oversight or verification of water savings, real-world outcomes from environmental water, or return on our investment.

 “Any Murray-Darling Royal Commission must include the investigation of any insider trading by senior politicians and bureaucrats, conflicts of interest in water trading and the so-called efficiency grants, as well as the veracity of the MDBA’s claims and the evidence that they’re based on, such as the claim that the lower lakes at the Murray’s mouth have always been fresh.

“The MDBA’s mismanagement has not only resulted in billions of dollars of wasted taxpayer funds and billions of liters of wasted water flushed to sea or lost to evaporation. It has also tarnished the health of the very rivers it was meant to protect and has caused untold damage to regional Australian communities. Farmers have been pushed to bankruptcy and suicide while countless livestock have starved or been dehydrated to death. The MDBA and any politicians or bureaucrats who have mismanaged taxpayers’ funds must have their day of reckoning.”

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Brian Marlow