The time for reviewing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is coming to an end, the minister responsible has declared.
“In my view, communities are quite simply consulted-out,” Water Minister Keith Pitt told the Rural Press Club of Victoria on Thursday.
“They’re exhausted by it and to be frank, I get it, I understand.”
Mr Pitt said the government would soon release its response to the Sefton report, which looked at the socio-economic conditions of the basin.
He’s also in the midst of implementing recommendations from interim basin inspector-general Mick Keelty and is expecting a competition watchdog report into water trading.
Mr Pitt, who took on the portfolio in February, admits the plan is complicated but says it’s here to stay.
“Walking away from the basin plan will not automatically make more water available… it simply won’t. There are no silver bullets,” he said.
The Productivity Commission has recommended the Murray-Darling Basin Authority be split, a move this week backed by Mr Pitt’s Nationals colleagues Damian Drum and Bridget McKenzie.
“I don’t want to rule anything in or out,” Mr Pitt said.
“I am trying to ensure that we take a very considered and detailed approach. I have a wheelbarrow full of reports that are coming into my office and I’ll certainly look at those with a clear-eyed view.”
Mr Drum believes the authority should be split so that running the river, finishing the plan and putting in place regulations are done separately.
“We’re sick of having no trust, no confidence in how water is managed in our region and it’s about time we did whatever we could to fix up those who are controlling water in the Murray-Darling Basin,” he said.