The man tasked with looking into the management of water across the Murray-Darling Basin has slammed the governance which got it to the point of a national inquiry.
Interim Inspector-General of Murray-Darling Basin water resources Mick Keelty told more than 50 people at the Albury town hall meeting yesterday the management of water in Australia was "confusing and too hard" and described the basin plan as "scrambled spaghetti".
Mr Keelty said it was hoped his inquiry would find "some low-hanging fruit" to make real changes to help real people.
"I have got these terms of reference to look at the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement and whether that agreement is still working today as it was intended given that there has been no inflows coming from the north," he said.
"My biggest criticism of the decision makers is that they have been too slow to react to the inflows we have had."
You have divided what it is a national asset into jurisdictional pieces of pieMick Keelty
Mr Keelty said because he was not with government, but simply a contractor, and "not looking for a promotion", he was able to "tell it like it is" when he hands down his report on March 31.
"What you have with the basin is you have divided what it is a national asset into jurisdictional pieces of pie," he said.
"The changing policies and the revolving door of ministers has not helped.
"What is there to attract the next generation? We have made it so complicated and so hard."
Mr Keelty said if he could not make a difference through the inquiry he would "say it publicly and walk away".
"But walking away has never succeeded in achieving anything," he said. "I am not going to promise you that I am the answer to everything, but I promise that I will try and change what things that I can see, the things that can change.
"This is not the first and last inquiry, I am here for the longer term."
The inquiry is to look into the impact of changing distribution of inflows to the southern basin on state shares under the MDBA and any consequential impacts on state water shares resulting from reserves required under the MDBA. This includes how these interact with state water allocation policies.
The inquiry also asked for written submissions and received 343 responses online. The final town hall meeting will be held in Langhorne Creek on Tuesday.