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3The Independent Weekly
news January 22 - 28, 2010
The Coorong, Lake Alexandrina
and Lake Albert may not be
saved by the water deal worked
out between SA and NSW.
Environment Institute director
Professor Mike Young said while
any water would be welcome, it was
far too early to say how much the
lakes might get from floods now
sweeping down the Darling.
He said the water would have to
be released slowly to prevent too
much being lost over the flood plain
and to avoid further riverbank
"The benefit could be marginal --
or magnificent," Prof Young said.
"We simply can t say yet. This is
an art, not a science."
This week Premier Mike Rann
claimed the state would get 148
gigalitres from the floods, and
federal Water Minister Penny Wong
promised another 20 gigalitres.
Mr Rann also hinted more water
would be made available, which
means that if it fails to arrive he
will be merely breaking an election
hint, not an election promise.
Prof Young said the earlier SA
irrigators and the public knew how
much was coming, the easier it
would be to properly plan.
Liberal leader Isobel Redmond
accused Mr Rann of delaying, for
maximum political advantage, an
announcement of further water
releases until closer to the election.
"The Premier must think the
public are fools if he thinks people
won t see through this political
"People need water now, not when
it politically suits the Premier,"
shadow water security minister
Mitch Williams said.
But the Liberals case for river
management was not bolstered
by its support for a referendum,
proposed by federal Opposition
Leader Tony Abbott, to decide
whether the Commonwealth should
take control of the Murray-Darling.
Under section 128 of the
Constitution, a referendum has to
be passed by the majority of the
people in the majority of the states.
People in states with no physical
or economic connection with the
Murray or the $2 billion desalina-
tion plant at Port Stanvac would
vote under Mr Abbott s referendum.
NSW and Victorian voters, in
particular, could be expected to
vote against it. NSW has increased
irrigation allocations to 100 per
cent. SA irrigators are allowed to
use less than half their entitlement.
sink in spin
Attorney-General Michael Atkinson
says SA s current whistleblower
legislation protects informants,
but after spending almost a decade
battling for justice and dealing with
severe victimisation, Rob McKibbin
has reason to believe otherwise.
The Wynn Vale resident first blew
the whistle on inappropriate sexual
conduct and bullying at the Public
Trustee office in 2000, pushing his
complaints through seven different
government justice sectors over
Exhausting battles like
Mr McKibbin s and a lack of
transparency in the whistleblowing
process have led the Liberal Party to
announce wide-ranging legislative
changes, should it win the upcoming
The most controversial change
would allow protection for whistle-
blowers who take their information
to the media if internal disclosures
have not been acted on "in a reason-
able time", where the matter poses
a serious threat to public health and
Mr Atkinson said this would
create "a society where smear
campaigns and false allegations
are rife and there would be no
accountability on the journalists
who publish it".
However shadow justice minister
Vickie Chapman said the changes
would end the culture of secrecy in
Mr McKibbin said a similar policy
could have prevented the years of
inactivity by justice authorities in
"I had the unique problem that I
worked within the justice portfolio,
so they all share the same cup of
tea," he said.
"It is a happy boys club. They
look after each other and there
is no one else to go to. I needed
somewhere to go that was outside
the Justice Department.
"I used to think that if you did
the right thing, someone would look
Ms Chapman agrees that trans-
parency is lacking in the current
whistleblower system, saying she
knows of a couple of cases where
there have been "clear cover-ups".
"Caesar reviewing Caesar is a
real issue and we would want to
have someone independent," she
Under the current system, public
interest disclosures can be made
only to Government ministers,
but the Liberal Party would seek
to expand that to all members of
A supporter of the Save the Chelsea
Theatre group has allegedly been
warned by police not to contact MPs
for help following an incident at a
Burnside Council meeting.
"At a council meeting on November
17 last year the woman claims she
was manhandled by the Burnside
Council chief executive," Independent
MP John Darley said.
"She lodged a complaint with the
police on November 21."
Mr Darley said when nothing
happened, the woman contacted
the police officer in charge of the
case. "Last week she wrote an email
to me, (MP) David Winderlich and
the detective in charge of the case,
saying she was concerned about the
length of time her case was taking.
"Three days later she was called
by a senior police officer who was
extremely angry about her contacting
"He said it was most inappropriate
for her to contact members of
parliament and asked her to withdraw
-- Melissa Mack
Blowing the whistle
still a foul call
Whistleblower Rob McKibbin:
Photo: Kate Elmes
Police warn woman against
Protestors outside Wednesday's federal cabinet meeting in Magill.
Photo: Kate Elmes
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