Seven years on from the announcement of the $13 billion Murray-Darling basin water plan, 23 river valleys and one million square kilometres of the Murray–Darling river system is still in a parlous state and a crippling drought. The Murray–Darling Basin Royal Commission is trying to find out exactly how we got here.

When officials were tasked with designing the national plan to manage the flows of the Murray–Darling Basin, they were supposed to use the best available science.

But according to one who was involved, the method used to determine how many thousand billion litres should be recovered was far from scientific. Scientists describe “interference” from the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and “attempts to influence CSIRO findings” related to modelling ahead of setting the water-use limits. Karen Middleton reports.

Plus: Mike Seccombe on who’s profiting from racism, Clem Bastow on library learning with Dolly magazine, and Maxine Beneba Clarke meets playwright Declan Greene.

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The Saturday Paper