Another interim toothless water cop

By Terri Butler MP

16 December 2020

The Morrison Government has appointed yet another interim, toothless water cop for Australia’s environmentally unique and economically critical Murray Darling Basin, following the abolition of the previous interim role. 

In August 2019, the Morrison Government announced a “tough cop on the beat” for the Murray Darling Basin, however they failed to empower the role through legislation, leaving it interim and toothless.
Labor has been calling for action to empower the Inspector General role since the announcement over a year ago, and has kept up that pressure, given the importance of the $13 billion Murray Darling Basin Plan. 
The Morrison Government originally promised the previous Inspector General role would be able to refer matters to the non-existent Commonwealth Integrity Commission. The role never got any powers, despite promises that it would be able to compel witnesses.
Labor doesn’t hold out great hope that this appointment to yet another interim, toothless role, will correct the Morrison Government’s abject failure to deliver on its promises to regional communities that are desperate for action.
Local parking inspectors appear to have more power than our nation’s top water cop at this point, despite serious problems existing in the Basin and the $24 billion annual value of agricultural production in the Basin.
The Morrison Government’s announcements on the Murray Darling Basin have become an absolute farce.
Labor is calling for the Morrison Government to present a bill to the parliament to properly empower the role and finally put a tough cop on the beat for the Murray Darling. Otherwise, this announcement will amount to yet another shameful milestone of neglect, and triumph of spin over substance.
Our environment, jobs and Australia’s economy rely on a healthy Murray Darling Basin. But Australians can’t rely on the Morrison Government to deliver.  
This Prime Minister has time for sports rorts, airport rorts, and subsidising private jets for his mates, but his government hasn’t had time to empower a tough water cop, deliver a strong Commonwealth Integrity Commission or develop a plan for some of Australia’s most critical issues.