Conservatives call for Murray Darling Basin Royal Commission

The Australian Conservatives have joined calls for the establishment of a Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin Plan, citing “systemic corruption concerns within the Basin.”

Conservative Party SA senate candidate Rikki Lambert has called for a Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin.

Conservative Party SA senate candidate Rikki Lambert has called for a Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin.

Conservative Party SA senate candidate and Riverland-raised Rikki Lambert said a Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin was a serious election issue. 

"A proper Royal Commission - with powers to call for evidence and punish those who do not co-operate - can only be called by the government, not by the parliament,” said Lambert. 

“We can apply pressure in the parliament, but it takes the government to act. For so long as the Liberals resist a national Royal Commission, it becomes an election issue."

Lambert said a large portion of concern on the issue focuses on the behavior of New South Wales, such as the taking of water illegally and a blind eye potentially being turned to such conduct.

This comes on the cusp of South Australia’s own Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin, set to be released on February 1. 

Commissioner, Bret Walker SC advised that the report should be released immediately after delivery to the Governor as the “public interest demands it.”

"Bear in mind the federal government has not co-operated with the South Australian Royal Commission, which is due to publish its hamstrung report” said Lambert. 

Mr Lambert added that recent concern about fish kill in the Darling river system has merely highlighted the seriousness of the issue.

"Nobody got outraged about fish kill in Lake Bonney in the Riverland during the drought, but the clever use of social media has got people outraged about the Darling,” he said.

“It has helped to compound the existing concerns about water management and allocation within New South Wales. With the Basin Plan due to be finalised during the life of the next six-year term of the Senate, we need to elect senators fearless enough to stare down those interstate not putting all three major aspects of the Basin Plan - the river's communities, economy and environment - first.”

"When you have a government that says it is committed to decentralisation but resists a natural decentralisation candidate in the MDBA to South Australia, you have to question why the government wants to keep it close inside the Canberra Bubble or away from SA."