The following was previously published in the Bendigo Advertiser on 6 November 2013
Meetings hosted by the MDBA during October to discuss activities under the Basin Plan attracted a good turnout.
This was a valuable opportunity to hear from many local community members across the southern Basin, who brought wide-ranging perspectives to the conversation.
We greatly appreciate the time people gave to meet with us and to share their views.
MDBA Chief Executive, Dr Rhondda Dickson, at last month’s open house in Shepparton
Last year, Basin Ministers requested that, as part of the Basin Plan, the MDBA complete a study on constraints – the Constraints Management Strategy. The strategy will outline the work that needs to be done over the coming years on constraints to the delivery of environmental water. The draft version of this will be released tomorrow on the MDBA website. Remember, the strategy itself is just the first step in what will be many years’ worth of work looking at constraints.
In simple terms, a constraint is something that stops us from delivering environmental water as effectively as we could – in other words, things that stop us from getting water to where it could do some good.
On the Murray, looking towards Mildura. Photo: MDBA
A constraint could be something physical, like a low lying bridge, or a rule or policy, like dam release rules. Changing how we manage the Basin’s rivers and removing certain constraints could allow us to get better environmental outcomes in the Basin. To do this properly, we need to have a good understanding of what constraints are out there and what the effects would be if we made changes to any of them. Continue reading
As more and more people contact us for information on the draft and order their copy, we’ve been asked ’How should I read it?’
It’s a good question, and an important one considering that the Windsor Inquiry said we had to do a better job of communicating the Basin Plan.
The draft Basin Plan is actually a draft legislative instrument – it’s a piece of draft legislation. As you can imagine, that doesn’t make for light reading. Below is a suggested approach for getting your head around the draft.
- Keep an eye on this blog and our website – we’re committed to ’no surprises’ so we’ll continue to put out information about the draft. For example, there’s a brief of what we’ve been discussing with stakeholders and information about the science we’ve used.
- Read the 30(ish)-page document ‘Delivering a Healthy, Working Basin’. This has the Chair’s foreword in it and 10 key points about the draft. It also covers the big issues like draft sustainable diversion limits, the science, socio-economics, adaptive management, localism and how you can have your say.
- Next, grab the catchment-by-catchment summaries. Here, you can look up your catchment and read the 2-3 pages of information specifically about your area.
- Having read through these simpler documents, you should have a better idea of what bits of the draft you are particularly interested in. Now’s the time to find yourself a well-lit, comfy spot and sit down with both the draft legislative instrument (about 220 pages) and plain English summary (about 140 pages). The plain English summary is the explanation document for the draft Plan, giving a translation of each section. It’s a good idea to read both documents side-by-side, to make sure that you’re getting through the ‘legalese’.
- Contact the MDBA or your peak body/state government for clarification on any points. These organisations, including the National Farmers’ Federation, National Irrigators’ Council and Australian Conservation Foundation, are all across the draft, as are many local peak bodies.
- Have your say on what’s in the draft. This is the important bit, as we will take your submissions and write the first Basin Plan.
Since there’s a lot of reading, we won’t be out in the Basin in the first week of the 20-week consultation period. That’s reading and digesting time – something else we learned from last year!