MEMBER for Mildura, Ali Cupper, has backed comments by Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville that the focus of the Commonwealth Government’s new Murray Darling Inspector General, Mick Keelty is in the wrong place.

Ms Cupper said she supports the creation of the Inspector General role and the appointment of Mick Keelty, but not where he is concentrating his efforts. 

“By and large, the growers that I speak to in my electorate understand the need for the Basin Plan and want to see it implement properly and fairly,” she said.

“They are proud that Victoria leads the way in terms of compliance and want to see other states doing their bit too. They want Mr Keelty to be focussed on fixing the long-standing issues that have undermined the basin plan like flood plain harvesting, poor metering practices and water theft.”

Ms Cupper has criticised the Commonwealth Government’s decision to focus the Inspector General on water sharing arrangements, which she says is a cynical move to protect the NSW Coalition Government.

“Having the Inspector General looking at water sharing arrangements instead of compliance is a political decision,” she said.

“Mr Keelty is a compliance expert, not a scientist. But the Nationals know that if he is tasked with addressing non-compliance, then all eyes will be on the northern basin. According to objective evidence, that’s where the worst mismanagement and corruption has occurred, by some of the Nats’ closest allies.

“Irrigators in my electorate do the right thing. They expect and deserve other irrigators across the basin to do the same. The Morrison Government should be backing the Inspector General to ensure compliance to the Murray Darling Basin Plan, not playing politics with his role to protect his National party mates.”