Labor welcomes late appointment of indigenous MDBA Board member

By Terri Butler MP

19 December 2020

Labor has today welcomed the Morrison Government’s appointment of a permanent Indigenous Authority Member for the Murray Darling Basin Authority board.

Labor recently sought an update from the Minister about the appointment process given the significant delay in filling the new role since the legislation passed in September 2019.

It is critical that the Murray Darling Basin has indigenous voices central to its decision making.

First Nations communities have for too long been left out of water management.

Aboriginal cultural heritage plays a crucial role in water management and the health of the Murray Darling Basin.

The delay in appointing this role is not an isolated case of the Morrison Government being slow to act on critical issues in the Basin. 

Despite significant integrity, trust and confidence issues existing across the Basin, the Morrison Government recently made yet another interim, toothless water cop appointment. 

The government abolished the previous Interim Inspector General role, which they failed to empower through legislation, despite promising to do so.

The new Murray Darling Basin Inspector General of Water Compliance role will still not have any significant powers until legislation is passed, leaving the role with less compliance capacity than a local parking inspector.

Australians can’t afford a government that neglects the environmental, cultural and economic significance of the Basin, particularly given the $24 billion annual value of agricultural production and the $13 billion cost of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

Delay, mismanagement and spin have become the hallmark of the Morrison Government’s approach to managing the Murray Darling Basin, and now communities, indigenous Australians and our environment are paying the price.