Accountabillity Watered Down In Murray-darling Reform

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22nd October 2010, 10:00am - Views: 1454

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Media contacts: Megan Staunton, 02 9329 7368, 0419 346 890 (COAG Reform Council)

Lynne Griffiths, 02 6102 6023, 0412 786 945 (National Water Commission)

Media Release

22 October 2010

Accountability watered down in Murray-Darling reform

The COAG Reform Council today called on the Commonwealth and the Basin States to improve public

accountability in delivering water reforms under their bilateral Water Management Partnerships.

The council’s first progress report, Water Management Partnerships: Report on Performance 2009, deals

with one aspect of the overarching Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform—Water Management

Partnerships worth up to $3.7bn.

The council found that the Basin States made satisfactory progress on their 2009 obligations, such as

bringing in new performance standards for processing water trading. 

“Overall we found good progress, but this was not surprising given the limited and relatively unambitious

nature of the reform obligations set out in these Partnerships,” Chairman of the COAG Reform Council,           

Mr Paul McClintock AO said.

A key concern for the council is that the Partnerships do not reflect the full range of water reforms set out

by COAG in the overarching Agreement. 

In particular, the milestones in this Partnership are silent on cornerstone reforms such as the Basin Plan, and

other reform responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the Basin States. 

“Although a lot of important work is underway to improve water management in the Basin, the current

Partnerships do not reflect this, and they don’t tell us the full story of how governments are working

together to achieve this goal,” Mr McClintock said.

“As a result, our report can only present a partial and somewhat confusing picture of the progress of water

reform in the Murray-Darling Basin.” 

The council has recommended that water reform milestones be established for the Commonwealth.

“The Commonwealth’s role is central to water reform. Specific Commonwealth milestones will ensure that

they can be held to the same level of accountability as the Basin States,” Mr McClintock said. 

In addition, the council has recommended that governments ensure there are clear and accountable

pathways to achieving the full range of water reforms.

The council’s report also provides an overview of governments’ progress in developing and delivering the

17 ‘priority projects’ established under the Agreement.

National Water Commission

In this reporting role the council is able to delegate responsibility for assessing the performance of the Basin

States. For this report, the council worked with the National Water Commission whose assessment—found

in volume 2—is a key input into the council’s report.


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