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Published: 21 December 2018   •   Media release

There has been real improvement in water rule compliance and enforcement across the Murray–Darling Basin in the first six months of Compliance Compact operation, but the momentum needs to continue.

That's according to the first Murray–Darling Basin Compliance Compact Assurance Report released today by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA).

The Chief Executive of the MDBA, Phillip Glyde, said the report stepped though the actions taken by state and territory governments, the MDBA, and the Commonwealth to deliver on the 200 actions committed to in the Compliance Compact.

The Compliance Compact is a landmark agreement between the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victorian, Queensland, South Australian and ACT governments and the MDBA, and was agreed by the Council of Australian Governments at its meeting on 12 December 2018.

"The report is an important measure of the pace of reform and a crucial part of building community confidence in the way the Basin's water is managed," Mr Glyde said.

"The benefits of the Basin Plan rely on strong cooperation and long-term accountability, so it is pleasing to see all parties putting emphasis on this important part of water management.

"For the purposes of this first assurance review, the MDBA focused on the five areas that we considered most critical to improving compliance and enforcement practices by the state governments and achieving Basin Plan outcomes at this point.

"For example, each state has to publish a metering policy and implementation plan by 31 December this year so that the take of water can be accurately measured.

"We are not marking our own homework here at the MDBA—the Independent Assurance Committee (IAC) has assessed our performance.

"The Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council noted the IAC report as well as the MDBA assurance report into state progress at its meeting on 14 December 2018.

"The IAC found four of the MDBA's 31 actions showed progress that was below par. These include publishing practice notes on floodplain harvesting, development of a system for real time advice on environmental watering, guidelines for reviewing metering thresholds and a timetable for delivering pattern-approved meters.

"We accept the recommendations and we will be working to prioritise these actions.

"The Compliance Compact is critically important in upholding the Australian community's trust that the Murray–Darling Basin's finite water resources are being managed consistently, transparently and in accordance with the rules and regulations," Mr Glyde said.

The 2018 Murray–Darling Basin Compliance Compact Assurance Report is available on the MDBA website at https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/independent-reports/basin-compliance-compact

FAST FACTS:

  • The Murray–Darling Basin covers one million square kilometres – that's four times the size of New Zealand
  • The Murray–Darling Basin accounts for about 14 per cent of Australia's land mass and produces about 40 per cent of our food and fibre.
  • 2.6 million people live in the Murray–Darling Basin and more than 3 million rely on it for drinking water.

ENDS

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