Federal Minister for Water Resources, David Littleproud, in Mildura in June.

FEDERAL Minister for Water Resources, David Littleproud, has announced that the Government intends to create a new Inspector-General position to oversee integrity in Murray-Darling Basin.

Aimed at increasing the transparency and integrity of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s implementation, the Minister will propose the introduction of an Inspector-General when Basin States meet for the next Ministerial Council on Sunday.

The new statutory position will have powers across the Basin under the Water Act 2007.

The Inspector-General will hold the MDBA, Commonwealth and all States to account, provide independent assurance to the community around the Plan’s implementation and ensure the laws governing water use are followed. 

The Inspector-General will be able to refer issues to the Commonwealth Integrity Commission once it is established.

“This is a new tough cop on the beat across the Murray-Darling, with the powers needed to ensure integrity in delivery of the Basin Plan,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The Inspector-General is the latest in a long line of integrity measures to make sure communities, farmers and environmentalists could all have confidence the Basin Plan was delivering as was agreed.

 “The public needs to know the Basin Plan is delivering the water it was intended to, and farmers need to know the Plan is working for as it should.

“The Inspector-General can investigate suspected water theft, collect evidence and supply it to the authorities.”

Offices and staff to support the Inspector-General are expected to be established in the northern and southern basin.

State and Territory Ministers will be asked this weekend to endorse the new position, which is due to be established by 2020.

The Inspector-General will have responsibility to check on water recovery and delivery of water efficiency projects and to monitor compliance and suspected water theft across the Basin, investigating and collecting evidence where appropriate.

They will also provide annual reports to the Minister for Water Resources, and tabled in Parliament and conduct community engagement on Basin Plan implementation and compliance matters.