The South Australian Government has announced the formation of a new taskforce to co-ordinate the state’s response to the draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan.


“The taskforce will include Ministers Paul Caica, John Rau, Jack Snelling, Gail Gago and PatrickConlon as well as senior officials across government agencies, including Department for Water chief executive Scott Ashby, Chief Scientist Don Bursill and Under-Treasurer Brett Rowse,” South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said.


The Plan, released earlier in the week by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), has drawn heavy criticism from both irrigators and conservationists, who have blasted the reduction of annual flow to 2750 billion litres per year.


“The taskforce will co-ordinate the scientific and ecological analysis of the plan and consider South Australia’s legal rights in relation to this matter,” Mr Weatherill said.


On December 5, the State Government will convene a meeting of experts and representatives of anumber of groups interested in the health of the river to discuss the plan.


“City and country, irrigators and environmentalists, upper and lower reaches of the river all share anumber of similar concerns - so there is a strong basis for a united SA position on the plan,” MrWeatherill said.


“South Australia took early action to protect the river putting in place a self-imposed cap in 1969,while upstream States continued to over allocate water.