Keelty Report scathing on lack of basin-wide leadership

17 April 2020

The Keelty Report into the Murray-Darling Basin has delivered a scathing assessment of the Morrison Government’s lack of leadership in the Basin. 

The report, “Impact of lower inflows on state shares under the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement,” refers to the stress and anguish being felt in Basin communities, and the toxicity of the public debate on water.

The report makes clear that the lack of leadership, transparency and "a single point of truth" across the Basin have resulted in a crisis of confidence. 

This is an indictment on the Morrison Government’s absence of leadership in the management and governance of Australia’s precious water resources.

Labor has been calling for action from the Government for some time to address the disastrous lack of water transparency that is paralysing farmers and communities in the Basin, damaging our economy and crushing confidence, particularly during one of the worst droughts on record.

We are pleased that the report’s recommendations have sounded a clarion call for greater and more effective transparency measures.

Labor will now hold the Government to account for its promise to accept and implement the recommendations in the report.

We will also continue to insist that the Government provide a statutory basis and powers for Mr Keelty’s position. Mr Keelty remains an Interim Inspector General, without a statutory position or powers.

The Inspector-General position, first announced on 1 August 2019, still has no statutory powers, and no timetable to get statutory powers, despite the government claiming the announcement had been in train for months before being made.

Mr Keelty is an eminent Australian and the right person for the job. He deserves to be empowered to undertake his work, not left toothless indefinitely. 

The Morrison Government’s failure to empower the Murray Darling Basin Inspector General, a role they said would be a ‘tough cop on the beat’, once again shows they have a political strategy, but not a plan for action on integrity and transparency.