A new high-powered position of Inspector-General has been created for the Murray-Darling Basin.
Described by Minister for Water Resources, David Littleproud as a “new tough cop on the beat”, the Inspector-General is to have the task of ensuring the integrity of delivering the Basin Plan.
Mr Littleproud said the new Inspector-General would have powers across the basin under The Water Act 2007.
“The Inspector-General will hold the Murray Darling Basin Authority, 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,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The Inspector-General will be able to refer issues to the Commonwealth Integrity Commission once it is established.”
He said the appointment, which is to come into effect next year, would be the latest in a 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 as it should,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The Inspector-General can investigate suspected water theft, collect evidence and supply it to the authorities.”
He said offices and staff to support the Inspector-General were expected to be established in the northern and southern basin. However, an interim Inspector General might be appointed while legislation creating the role was under consideration by Parliament.
The new position will replace the Northern and Southern Basin Commissioners with former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police and currently Northern Basin Commissioner, Mick Keelty, appointed interim Inspector-General.