Labor's latest political appointment spells trouble for the Murray-Darling Basin

Murray-Darling Basin communities and those interested in delivering the Basin Plan have a lot to be worried about following Labor’s announcement that Sydney-based barrister, Richard Beasley, will be appointed as South Australia’s new River Murray Commissioner.

Mr Beasley’s divisive and abrasive approach to the River Murray is illustrated in his 2021 book, Dead In The Water, and includes:

• Telling the CSIRO, an Australian scientific institution, to “go **** yourselves” in response to their criticism of Mr Beasley’s comments made at Labor’s politically motivated ‘River Murray Royal Commission’.

• Opposing water efficiency projects that have successfully delivered hundreds of gigalitres of environmental water projects in the past, making agricultural communities more drought resilient.

“It’s hard to believe Susan Close could seriously think that appointing an inner-city Sydney Commissioner who doesn’t even reside in the Basin was a good move,” Opposition Minister for Water Resources and the River Murray Nicola Centofanti said.

“A successful advocacy role in the Murray-Darling Basin requires having the confidence of the Basin communities – which include irrigators, other businesses, and the public. I’m not convinced that appointing a Sydney lawyer, who believes water buybacks are the only way forward, will wash with these communities.

“Instead of delegating her responsibilities as Water Minister to a silk from New South Wales, Susan Close should save taxpayer dollars and do the job she was elected and paid very well to do.

“Unfortunately, and as predicted, Labor has once again announced a Labor aligned high-profile position filled by bypassing fair and proper recruitment processes.

“Labor’s echo chamber can be heard from space by now, as it surrounds itself with these types of positions.”

In a radio interview yesterday, Mr Beasley stated that his job was to “advocate for greater transparency in this whole system because it’s all been very secret” – yet within minutes he refused to disclose how much he was being paid as Commissioner.

“We know there is $2 million set aside for the role over four years, but Labor – and now Mr Beasley – refuse to disclose exactly how much the Commissioner will be paid,” Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone said.

“We are now five months into the Malinauskas Labor Government’s term and this is the first action – a failed one – from Susan Close who is shirking her own responsibility of advocating for the Basin.

“We have also seen now that Tanya Plibersek is pushing back a meeting between the Basin’s Water Ministers to the end of the year, further delaying action.”

mediarelease feature