South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has established a Royal Commission into widespread allegations upstream irrigators are stealing water from the Murray-Darling river system.
The Royal Commission will have wide-ranging coercive powers to investigate breaches of the Murray-Darling Basin agreement. The commissioner will examine the adequacy of existing legislation and practices and make recommendations for any necessary changes.
The Royal Commission will also look into whether any legislative or policy changes since the agreement was signed in 2012 have been inconsistent with the purpose of the basin agreement and basin plan.
There is currently ongoing work reviewing the Murray-Darling Basin system, including a Productivity Commission Report, an independent investigation in NSW and a basin-wide compliance review by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
This work will be considered by the Royal Commission, headed by barrister Bret Walker, an expert in constitutional law, when it begins early in the new year.