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Independent authority needed for water reform

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 24 Jan 2007

The Greens are calling on the new Minister for Water, Malcolm Turnbull to set up an independent authority to oversee water resource reform in the Murray Darling Basin.

"A truly independent decision-making body free from political interference is the key to achieving effective water reform and delivering long-term water security," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

Senator Siewert welcomed Mr Turnbull's announcement that he intends to make water conservation a priority, but expressed concern that unless a new approach is taken his words will be empty rhetoric.

"The current concentration on infrastructure spending misses the point. What is needed is structural reform to solve the underlying problems of over-allocated resources and decreasing inflows," she said.

"As per usual the Commonwealth and States are bickering over infrastructure spending rather than addressing these underlying problems."

"We need to see a change in the decision-making process - we need an independent body a joint Commonwealth / State approach that removes political interference from decision-making and fosters a culture of planning for the long-term."

"An independent authority would able to make the difficult decisions needed to tackle the problem of over-allocation, ensure the effective functioning of the water market, an buy back allocations - in the same way the Reserve Bank independently sets interest rates."

"We need to start taking long term planning seriously and put more resources into water conservation, demand reduction and waste water recycling," said Senator Siewert.

"Until we acknowledge the long-term impacts of reduced rainfall and increased evaporation on our water security, this precious resource will remain over-allocated and our water resource planning will remain insufficient," she concluded.

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