THE Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission says despite media reports to the contrary, it has the power to compel witnesses from any state to give evidence.
The royal commission was established by the South Australian Government in response to concerns about water use across the Murray-Darling Basin, including water theft.
“It has been stated repeatedly on various public occasions, including community consultations by senior counsel assisting and by the royal commissioner, that the effect of the Royal Commissions Act 1917 (SA) and the Service and Execution of Process Act 1992 (Cth) is to permit the service out of South Australia of compulsory process to obtain evidence for the royal commission,” A statement issued by the royal commission reads.
“The production of documents and the attendance of witnesses to give evidence may be compelled whether the process is to be served in South Australia or elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth of Australia.
“That position is regarded as correct by the royal commissioner as a matter of law on the current state of the relevant legislation. A proposal, which it has been announced will not be progressed, to amend the Royal Commissions Act for the purpose of clarifying its extraterritorial reach is not regarded as necessary by the royal commissioner, and would not extend the powers of the royal commission beyond what the current law provides.”
The royal commission is holding a community consultation meeting in St George on Wednesday.
The royal commission will also visit the Lamey family at Coomonga, on the Macintyre River, 25km south of Toobeah on Wednesday, before heading to Moree the next day. The Lamey’s are located next to Norman Farming Company’s property Whynot.
Chris Lamey said he would be explaining to the royal commission that the floodplain was equally as important as the river bed.
“Queensland laws as they stand don’t recognise water outside the river bed. It’s considered a nil consideration,” Mr Lamey said.
“The problem is that during periods high water flows, the system is open to abuse by irrigators.
“We very well understand how this braided river system functions. However, we shouldn’t be in a position were irrigators are allowed to be manipulate water flows, inundating upstream farmers and denying downstream farmers from accessing their water entitlements.”