A new Inspector-General for the basin

1 August 2019
  • New Inspector-General position to oversee integrity in Murray Darling Basin
  • Another move to increase transparency and integrity by Minister Littleproud

Minister for Water Resources David Littleproud will propose an Inspector-General for the Murray-Darling Basin when the basin states meet for Ministerial Council on Sunday.

“This is a new tough cop on the beat across the Murray-Darling, with the powers needed to ensure integrity in delivery of the Basin Plan,” Minister Littleproud said.

The new statutory position will have powers across the basin under The Water Act 2007.

The Inspector-General will hold the MDBA, Commonwealth and all states to account, provide independent assurance to the community around the plan’s implementation and ensure the laws governing water use are followed. The Inspector-General will be able to refer issues to the Commonwealth Integrity Commission once it is established.

Minister for Water Resources David Littleproud said the Inspector-General is the latest in a long line of integrity measures to make sure communities, farmers and environmentalists could all have confidence the Basin Plan was delivering as was agreed.

“The public needs to know the Basin Plan is delivering the water it was intended to, and farmers need to know the plan is working as it should,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The Inspector-General can investigate suspected water theft, collect evidence and supply it to the authorities.

“Offices and staff to support the Inspector-General are expected to be established in the northern and southern basin.”

State and Territory Ministers will be asked this weekend to endorse the new position, which is due to be established by 2020.

The move follows the successful Northern Basin Commissioner role filled by former AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty, which has already brought greater confidence and accountability to communities in northern New South Wales and Queensland.

The Inspector-General will:

  • Check on water recovery and delivery of water efficiency projects
  • Monitor compliance and suspected water theft across the basin; investigating and collecting evidence where appropriate
  • provide annual reports to the Minister for Water Resources, and tabled in Parliament
  • conduct community engagement on Basin Plan implementation and compliance matters

This follows a string of integrity announcements by Minister Littleproud:     

  • $35 million for river water level sensors and satellite monitoring
  • $25 million for water metering in the northern basin
  • $5 million for river level video cameras
  • Announced ACCC would investigate the water market and its functions in May
  • Study into the socio economic impacts of the Basin Plan
  • $15M for riverbank restoration
  • $40M Indigenous water fund
  • Fish hatcheries to be funded from Vertessy report response money
  • Created the first Northern Basin Commissioner – former AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty.

Fast Facts:

  • The Inspector-General role will be established through an amendment to the Water Act 2007.
  • This position does not replace the regulatory role of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
  • An interim Inspector-General may be appointed while legislation is being considered by the Australian Parliament.
  • Mr Mick Keelty AO APM, began a three-year term as the Northern Basin Commissioner on 11 September 2018.
  • This announcement has been in train for months and is entirely unrelated to Four Corners’ biased reporting on Basin Plan matters.