The head of the South Australian government's royal commission into the Murray-Darling basin plan has recommended a complete overhaul of the scheme, including reallocating more water from irrigation to the environment.
Conversely, the Conservative Party says the commission's findings are only half the story due to obstruction, secrecy and allegations of corruption.
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi says the federal government and the Basin Authority did not fully cooperate with the royal commission, so it didn't have all of the evidence it needed. There are also allegations of corruption and water theft in New South Wales and Queensland.
The South Australian royal commission exposed the fundamental flaw in the powers used to create the federal Basin Plan legislation, namely that the "external affairs" or "treaty" power was relied upon and the only relevant treaties are environmental treaties.
Therefore the needs of farmers and farming communities are legally irrelevant to the Basin Plan, according to the royal commission.
Bret Walker SC’s report also found commonwealth officials had committed gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions in drawing up the multibillion-dollar deal to save Australia’s largest river system.
Senator Bernardi has told ABC radio the royal commission into the basin was hamstrung by a lack of cooperation from the federal government, evidence of corruption, and mismanagement - and only a federal royal commission can get to the bottom of it.
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