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Is Australia just draining taxpayer money in the Murray-Darling Basin?

A case for improved transparency for Basin reforms

Tony Webster

Infrastructure projects in the Murray-Darling Basin have raised concerns over how taxpayer money is being spent, Tony Webster writes.

The government has announced some recent reviews into aspects of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) reforms but has not yet provided a substantive response to the recent Four CornersCash Splash’ report, which highlighted some problems with the flagship of the Commonwealth’s water recovery programs in the MDB.

Its key message was that around $4 billion of taxpayer money has so far been spent on irrigation infrastructure upgrades, but that these funds underpinned an expansion in irrigation for mostly private gain.

To the casual observer, this might seem an unlikely outcome for a program with an environmental objective. Yet poor transparency around the infrastructure program and a lack of water accounting make it difficult to independently conclude differently.

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