Damning report released by Murray-Darling Basin royal commission

A Murray-Darling Basin royal commission report has been critical of NSW Water Minister Niall Blair.

THE Murray-Darling Basin royal commission has found government officials committed gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions in drawing up the multi-billion-dollar deal to save Australia’s largest river system.

Commissioner Bret Walker SC recommended a complete overhaul of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, including reallocating more water from irrigation to the environment, according to an article on the ABC website.

The 746-page report, which made 111 findings and 44 recommendations, found the original plan ignored potentially “catastrophic” risks of climate change and recommended major reform including resetting water saving limits, repealing the outcome of the Northern Basin Review and new measurements for water on flood plains.

According to a later ABC article, the report also singled out NSW Regional Water Minister, Niall Blair, describing his insistence that the NSW Government’s controversial Menindee Lakes project should proceed despite the fish kills as “grossly irresponsible” and “crude”.

In response, the NSW government has stated that it won’t back a complete overhaul of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, arguing the changes suggested by the South Australian royal commission will hurt regional communities and benefit the downstream state.

For his part, Minister Niall Blair said the royal commission didn’t find anything new in relation to water theft in NSW and labelled the report as “hit and miss”, according to an article in the Australian Financial Review.

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