Authority calls out bullying

By Country News

Growing tensions about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan have led to ‘‘disrespectful behaviour and even bullying’’ in communities according to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The allegations were made during the authority’s April 2 and 3 meeting in Canberra, with the authority expressing concern.

‘‘(The affected individuals) stressed the importance of sustaining respectful dialogue, noting all want the best outcome for their communities and all voices need to be heard,’’ a statement from the MDBA said.

The upcoming publication of the Water Trade Price Report Audit report is casting a spotlight on compliance within the basin.

‘‘Members were advised that there are currently no formal investigations under way by the MDBA, however, there are 17 active cases that have been referred by the MDBA to basin state agencies for further investigation, eight of which are in NSW, six in Queensland and three in Victoria.’’

The authority acknowledged the recent conveyance losses report, which revealed about 620Gl had been lost between June 1 last year and January 31 this year.

‘‘The current demand for water in the River Murray system is easing, allowing the focus to return to the conservation of water as dry conditions persist.

‘‘The authority also emphasised the need for state governments to meet their commitment to protect environmental water as a measure that complements implementation of the water resource plans.

‘‘Members welcomed the briefing by state officials about the Victorian framework for protection of water for the environment.

‘‘Discussions are continuing about how to reflect the framework appropriately in the Victorian water resource plans.’’

The process of bringing floodplain harvesting into water use accounting by state governments was discussed at the meeting, with NSW officials providing details about the state’s progress to date, including measures to monitor compliance with basin plan requirements.

The importance of community confidence that the water resource plans accurately reflect the limits to floodplain harvesting and that those limits are complied with was stressed at the meeting.