MDBA unhappy with 60 Minutes episode

By Jamie Salter

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has submitted a formal complaint following the 60 Minutes segment Water Rats, which aired on October 27.

The MDBA said the program breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice section 3.3.1, which states: "A licensee must present factual material accurately and ensure viewpoints included in the program are not misrepresented".

The Water Rats episode depicted the MDBA as having mismanaged water in the Barmah-Millewa Forest through deliberate flooding.

In response, the MDBA stated the water flows were ordered by environmental water holders and placed through state water agencies of NSW and Victoria.

The MDBA said the flows were under operating rules and were within the regulated flow limits.

The 60 Minutes program also suggested the MDBA had hidden the extent of the losses in a "bureaucratic report", which the MDBA refuted.

“The MDBA published a detailed report on system losses in early 2019, along with an easy-to-read snapshot factsheet,” the MDBA said.

Prior to the episode being broadcast, the MDBA sent a statement to 60 Minutes on Murray River operations.

“Losses occur when water evaporates, is used by plants or seeps into the ground,” the statement said.

“These losses are factored into water orders through ‘conveyance’ — which is the water needed to deliver a water order.”

The program declined an on-camera interview and an off-camera briefing offered by the MDBA.

“Both offers were rejected by the producer who asked for a written response to a series of detailed questions,” the MDBA said.

“The MDBA provided a comprehensive statement in response to these questions, including website links to more information."

The program published this statement on its website and referred to it once the segment had ended.

The MDBA said the program failed to acknowledge other government agencies responsible for water markets.