We need to be sure that a transfer of control over the Murray-Darling water is constitutional, Independent MP Tony Windsor said today. The Commonwealth may well need a referendum before it takes control of the Murray-Darling. He says the details of the federal government’s plan to take over the Murray-Darling Basin must be made public and the basin’s communities and irrigators must be consulted. Mr Windsor issued a joint statement with another key Independent, Peter Andren. “All the negotiation around the Howard Government’s $10 billion water plan has involved federal and state leaders, ministers and bureaucrats with no sign that the communities and irrigators who rely on the Murray-Darling will get a say,” Mr Windsor said. “My independent colleague, Peter Andren and I are calling on the federal and state governments to make the draft legislation and explanatory documentation available to the public with a view to launching an extensive community consultation process. “If the Commonwealth government is going to take over control of the Murray-Darling, with the agreement of the States, once Victoria gets on board, there are questions that need to be answered. "Section 100 of the constitution states: The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade or commerce, abridge the right of a State or of the residents therein to the reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation. “So ‘the residents’ of a State have the same rights as their state governments when it comes to the regulation of water,” Mr Windsor said. Mr Andren believes that there is also questions of:
- How much authority is actually to be handed over by the states.
- How duplication of roles may occur and therefore duplication of costs to the taxpayer.