SA will conduct a Royal Commission into a tsunami of allegations surrounding water theft and corruption after a Murray-Darling Basin Plan compliance review released 12 findings required to meet environmental targets.
One of the report’s findings called for the MDB Authority to be given more powers to oversee water compliance enforcement activities at a federal level.
The report indicated all basin governments were required to better enforce their state’s water laws.
But the federal government has rejected Premier Jay Weatherill’s call to conduct a national Royal Commission, which has left state Water and the River Murray Minister Ian Hunter fuming.
“All these allegations have just added up to a point of crisis, and the federal government aren’t acting,” Mr Hunter said.
“(It was) our preference to have one run by the Commonwealth (and) given the raft of evidence we’ve seen over the last several months, what would people say about SA if we didn’t go out and establish a Royal Commission?
“We’ve said enough is enough, we’re not putting up with this any longer.”
Mr Hunter said someone had to stand up for the River Murray, as the federal government was not.
On Sunday, the Premier said the Royal Commission would have a wide range of coercive powers to investigate breaches of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.
Additionally, the Commissioner would examine the adequacy of existing legislation practices and make recommendations for any necessary changes.
Although they believe the Royal Commission should be established at a federal level, SA Murray Irrigators chair Caren Martin said irrigators loosely supported the Premier’s decision for a state-based inquiry.
“We need the federal government to show leadership and authority to be the independent authority and do their damn job,” she said.
“We would like to see confidence restored to the system and a predicate set if people do the wrong thing and ensure there are repercussions for their actions.”
Mrs Martin said without actions in place, it gave the impressions to the community they could steal water and if they were not caught it was then “fair game”.
“The Royal Commission not only needs to look into rogue behaviour by irrigators, but what culture prompted them to think it was OK (to steal water),” she said.