Water Depths Of Despair: More Dud Murray-Darling Water Purchasing Allegations

21 March 2018

The Nick Xenophon Team will ask the Auditor-General to review allegations raised in an analysis released today by The Australia Institute that the Federal Government overpaid vendors for water in the Condamine-Balonne valley. 

The Australia Institute's analysis alleges a Monty Pythonesque haggling over price which saw the Federal Government pay $2,745 per megalitre for water in the Condamine-Balonne valley after the vendors originally insisted on $2,200 per megalitre. The analysis also alleges that the water has no legal status outside the farm gate and should not be counted towards the water recovery target. 

"Yet again, a detailed and plausible claim that the Government has not achieved value-for-money for the taxpayer in its execution of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan," said Senator Rex Patrick, NXT's Environment Spokesperson.

"These nasty allegations just keep rearing their head and continue to undermine public confidence in the Government's implementation of the Plan.

"The only depths there appear to be in the Murray-Darling River system at the moment are those of despair."

The Australia Institute's analysis was conducted using buyback documents that were obtained by Senator Patrick using a Senate Order for Production of documents. 

Rebekha Sharkie is the NXT Member for Mayo, an electorate encompassing the Lower Lakes, the most vulnerable part of the River, and the Murray Mouth.

"This is a $13 billion taxpayer investment and we only have one chance to get the water flowing down the river.

"This is yet another highly questionable deal done by the Federal Government. Why did we pay more than the asking price? Is it any wonder that so many South Australians are losing faith in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan?"

Noting previous allegations on water buybacks, the NXT will now request that the Auditor-General undertake an audit of every buyback to make sure that they have met the value-for-money criteria and the full requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. 

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