Murray-Darling Basin 'theft' revelations must trigger ICAC investigation

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Murray-Darling Basin (screen shot via abc.net.au).

The explosive Four Corners investigation into the Murray-Darling river system irrigation 'theft' must trigger an ICAC investigation, writes ACF's Dr Paul Sinclair.

The ABC Four Corners program, Pumped,  has uncovered what could be one of the largest known cases of alleged water theft in Australia’s history, as well as evidence that the NSW Government did nothing to stop it.

Four Corners has exposed allegations that the NSW Government has failed to prosecute rogue irrigators and may have shut-down active investigations into this water theft.

Who is benefitting from the billions spent on the Murray-Darling? (Source: abc.net.au)

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) will be requesting that NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) commence an investigation into the allegations.

These are serious allegations of extraordinary abuse of the Murray-Darling Plan. There must be an ICAC investigation.

Instead of saving the river, it looks like the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has made a fortune for a lucky few. The government has to step in to fix abuses now if we are going to save our most precious water system.

Billions of dollars of public money have been given to irrigators and irrigation companies in the Murray Darling Basin over the last decade to secure water flows for rivers and upgrade irrigation infrastructure.

Communities across Australia and in the Murray-Darling Basin, deserve to know why it appears laws to stop the theft of water flows haven’t been enforced by the NSW Government.

ACF is also calling for a Federal Senate inquiry into the dealings taking place in the Barwon-Darling river system to investigate the undermining of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Four Corners program suggests that sections of the NSW Government are deeply influenced by a powerful group of irrigators and this is sabotaging reforms designed to restore flows and life to the Murray-Darling Rivers.

Many irrigators, conservationists, scientists and governments have worked for over 30 years to create reforms to return life giving flows to the Murray-Darling. The allegations made in the Four Corners program challenge the credibility and integrity of those governments and institutions who are now responsible for delivering these historic reforms.

The Murray and Darling Rivers are our lifeblood. If allegations raised by the Four Corners program are accurate, rogue irrigators and their political backers are harming the health of the entire basin and all of the communities – the people, wildlife, farms and cities – who depend on them.

Dr Paul Sinclair is the Campaign Director at the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF). You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulSinclair01.

For information on the ACF's 'Stand up for the Murray-Darling' campaign, click here.

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Murray-Darling Basin 'theft' revelations must trigger ICAC investigation

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