There is an urgent need to establish a National Integrity Commission to investigate, expose and prevent corruption at the federal level.

Numerous scandals, maladministration, unlawful activity, rorting, favouritism, and collusion, combined with a lack of transparency has led to a public perception of water governance being vulnerable to corruption.

Widespread calls for a Royal Commission into water management have been refused by the federal government. 

The Problems

  1. The price paid by the Commonwealth government for water purchased from a company previously associated with a federal minister far exceeded the market value.
  2. Commonwealth government ‘strategic’ purchases of water in the Northern Basin paid exorbitant prices for low security, highly unreliable water.
  3. Compliance and monitoring and  metering requirements have been lacklustre or non-existent, leading to water theft and widespread perception of regulatory capture favouring irrigation over the environment and public interest.
  4. Federal and state governments prohibited departmental representatives giving evidence at the South Australian Royal Commission. They have failed to respond to the Commission’s findings and recommendations.
  5. Uncontrolled floodplain harvesting in NSW and Queensland has diverted huge volumes of water away from rivers, undermining the Basin Plan.  
  6. Funds intended to return water to stressed rivers have been reallocated to projects with minimal requirements to recover water and maximum benefits to irrigators.

The Solutions

  1. Establishment of a National Integrity Commission capable of investigating these allegations against both public servants and politicians.
  2. The water ministry must be separated from the agriculture department and returned to the environment department.
  3. In any Coalition government, potential serious conflicts of interest dictate the Nationals should not be assigned the water portfolio.


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