The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is something irrigation communities are passionate about. They've put a lot into it and they have a lot riding on it. We need to make sure everyone gets their fair share.
Compliance is vital in delivering the Basin Plan. I want communities to have trust in each other, and in the authorities to make sure their water is protected.
I've got to hand it to the states, they've lifted their game and are acting to stop water theft. Right now there are cases before the courts and there have been convictions where the wrong thing has been done.
The Commonwealth has upped its game too. We've deployed 21st century smarts to keep an eye on water. We've invested $35 million to track flows in the Northern Basin with satellites and electronic monitoring to spot sudden changes in river levels.
We are also investing $5 million in cameras to live-stream river flows in real time for public transparency.
But I've got to be honest, we could do with a lot more trust right now. Communities should feel comfortable taking each other at their word. And greater trust and trust will build more confidence.
Water compliance and enforcement is a state responsibility. We believe all water users in the Murray-Darling Basin should be confident the water rules are enforced and complied with.
Communities need confidence their investment in the river is making a difference. What we need is someone who can double check everyone's work and report back, not only to the Basin community but also the broader Australian public.
This is where the Inspector-General of Murray-Darling Basin Water Resources comes in. Former AFP Chief Mick Keelty will be the interim Inspector-General and he's not just a tough cop on the beat, he will also be fair.
All the Basin governments are behind this. This goes to show they're committed to building trust and confidence too. From now on, all Basin Governments will have proof their neighbours are living up to their responsibilities.
This means the days of finger-pointing can end and we can get on with the job of rolling out the Plan and delivering for our communities.
But the Inspector General won't stop there. They'll build on the measures we and states have taken over the past two years to strengthen compliance and enforcement.
They'll investigate water theft allegations and any of substance will be referred onto appropriate criminal authorities. The vast majority of irrigators are doing the right thing and they have nothing to fear.
I am proud of what's being done to build community trust and certainty. It's the grease on the wheels as we deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and deliver certainty for our communities
The story Communities need confidence in Murray Darling Basin Plan first appeared on Farm Online.