No silver bullet in Keelty’s water report

The Interim Inspector General of Murray-Darling Basin Water Resources, Mick Keelty, has
presented his report into water sharing arrangements in the southern Basin to the Minister
for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt.
“Mr Keelty’s inquiry focused on the water sharing arrangements in the Murray-Darling Basin
and how they work with state water allocation policies” Minister Pitt said.
“This report reinforces the need to improve the transparency, accessibility and availability of
information about Murray-Darling Basin water matters.
“I accept the five key recommendations of Mr Keelty and I have directed both my
department and Murray Darling Basin Authority to take action to implement them.
“It’s important to remember that this is one of three key inquiries that together will help
guide Commonwealth and state governments’ policies around the management of the
Murray–Darling Basin.
The others are the Sefton Report into socio–economic circumstances among Basin
communities and the ACCC inquiry into the water market,” Minister Pitt said.
Federal Member for Mallee Anne Webster in welcoming the report, acknowledged that some people would find it disappointing.
“Some had hoped this report would lead to water management changes that would result in more water to irrigators,” Dr Webster said.
“What this report highlights is that changes cannot be made without impacting other water users and
risking next years water supply. Ultimately, what this report calls for is greater transparency as the key to restoring
confidence that the system is being managed efficiently and there is accountability in place.”
Dr Webster said that some myths were busted in the report findings.
“For example, contrary to popular belief, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has the same allocation,
same licences and must comply with the same rules as other irrigators,” she said.
“Another finding highlights the difference between State water allocation policy, which defines how reliable water licences are.
States that spread their water around a larger number of users, or allocate aggressively after rain, tend to run out of water first.
“I am pleased to say that the Commonwealth is working with NSW and QLD governments to improve metering, water monitoring methods and remote sensing. I also welcome today’s ABARES report, confirming Australia is one of the most food secure nations in the world despite the drought and the future outlook is even more positive.”
Minister Pitt thanked the Interim Inspector–General for the detailed work that went into his
“Mr Keelty met directly with over a thousand Basin residents, undertook 80 additional interviews and considered 354 public submissions during his inquiry,” he said.
“I would also like to acknowledge all those people who gave up their time to provide insights and ideas to assist the inquiry.”
A copy of the report can be found at