BASIN PLANNING: The Murray-Darling Basin.
BASIN PLANNING: The Murray-Darling Basin. David Barwell

Hot topics discussed at Basin Productivity Commission meet

BALONNE residents were quick to voice their concerns about Basin water restrictions at a series of commission meetings on Thursday and Friday.

The Productivity Commission, which is currently conducting a five-year review of the effectiveness of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, travelled to Dirranbandi and St George last week.

Concerns about law compliance in the light of leaked information about large irrigators stealing water ranked highly on the agenda, with residents and councillors given a platform to discuss the impacts of the legislation on the southwest.

Balonne mayor Richard Marsh said the question of compliance was discussed in some detail.

"We support the compliance aspect, we think everyone should be regulated in the same way and these regulations need to be pursued,” Cr Marsh said.

"It's like the traffic laws - sometimes if police aren't on the road, people are tempted to break the rules.

"We as a community support the compliance, because we know the plan is there to do a job and we understand that, if compliance isn't enforced, the plan can't be successful,” he said.

Cr Marsh added that he hoped the inquiry would help bring resolutions to the outback communities.

"It was an eye-opener. They were also keen to know what was happening and very interested in impacts and community situations,” he said.

"I didn't know what to expect, but I was most impressed by their approach and the methodology used.”

Associate Commissioner for Water, John Madden, said the Commission would be examining how the government and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority had implemented the plan, and would be making recommendations to improve implementation.

"Key issues we heard from Balonne stakeholders included the social and economic impacts of water recovery on the community and local businesses, the need for certainty about the plan for the future, and the importance of local input in the future management of local water resources,” he said.

A draft report will be released for public comment in August and a final report will be provided to government by the end of the year.