The future of water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin has been in the spotlight in recent months, with allegations of water theft by irrigators in New South Wales, and claims that the Basin Plan is being undermined by a lack of transparency and accountability.
The first independent and comprehensive review of the Basin Plan will be released today — and the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists conclude that water reform has indeed stalled.
The report says despite $8 billion being spent on the Basin plan — it will not be delivered 'in full and on time'.
The Basin Plan was put in place by the Gillard Labor Government in 2012 with the aim of improving water management in the Murray-Darling Basin from Queensland to South Australia — and to ensure good quality water was delivered to households, farmers and the environment.
Jamie Pittock told Breakfast the Basin Plan to date "sadly has been a disappointment, the alleged theft of water in NSW is the tip of the iceberg ... water agencies have been captured".
Dr Pittock said, "A lot of the $8bn has not been spent well ... most of the money is going as subsidies to individual irrigators."
"Those big irrigators have got a lot of resources and are very good at lobbying."
Dr Pittock said only $200m of the $13bn has been spent on regional development and called for more money to be spent on projects for local communities.
Find out more:
'Review of Water Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin'
Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists
SMH: 'At great risk': $13 billion Murray-Darling plan headed for failure, report says
By Peter Hannam
The Land: Wentworth Group: Lack of Murray Darling community funds damaging water recovery
By Mike Foley