Burke won’t release MDB legal advice
THE federal Government has refused to release the legal advice behind its draft plan for the Murray-Darling Basin.
In June, the Senate passed a Greens motion calling for the advice to be tabled in parliament.
Environment Minister Tony Burke said in his answer, tabled in parliament today (Wednesday), that there were “sound reasons” for not releasing the advice, Sydney media report.
“The advice in question explores matters in relation to which the Commonwealth could be expected to claim legal professional privilege in any litigation surrounding the Basin Plan and Water Act 2007,” he is quoted.
“(It also includes) matters which may have implications for other Commonwealth activities supported by the external affairs and constitutional powers.”
Mr Burke released “summary advice” in 2010 about how social and economic factors would be used to develop the basin plan.
The Minister said he intended to table in parliament, along with the final basin plan, further summary advice regarding how the plan complies with the Water Act and international obligations.
Some environment groups have suggested the plan could breach Australia’s obligations under the Ramsar convention, an international treaty to protect the ecology of wetlands.
Such a breach could be grounds for a High Court challenge to the final plan, which the Minister wants to table later this year.