State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed has called on the Victorian Water Minister to release the expert panel report into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s sustainable diversion limits.
In State Parliament on Thursday, Ms Sheed said the report would provide a level of comfort and more detailed knowledge about the technical foundations for moving forward on environmental offset projects.
The expert panel was established by Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville and NSW Regional Water Minister Niall Blair in February to provide advice on the technical foundations of the basin plan’s sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism.
This mechanism allows for the 2750Gl of water to be recovered under the plan to be offset by 650Gl worth of projects that deliver equivalent environmental outcomes.
‘‘When the expert panel was announced, both ministers argued that there was a lack of transparency around the assumptions that sit at the heart of the mechanism,’’ Ms Sheed said.
‘‘The panel reported back to the ministers in mid-March, yet the results of the review have still not been made publicly available.
‘‘This expert panel report has been gathering dust for months while our communities are struggling.
‘‘Everyone is behaving as if recovery of the additional 450Gl of water from the consumptive pool is a given, despite evidence of such negative impacts on our regions,’’ she said.
‘‘Given that the report was commissioned to ensure a level of transparency it is now incumbent upon both ministers to jointly release the report immediately.
‘‘There are already multiple inquiries and investigations under way into the MDBA and with trust in the system at an all-time low, we need to have all the information on the table.
‘‘While some parties may not want to release the data given the controversy surrounding some of our northern neighbours, that’s far from a valid reason for keeping us in the dark.
‘‘We can only wonder what they might be trying to hide.’’