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Published: 03 October 2019   •   Media release

Strong water compliance arrangements are making a difference in New South Wales thanks to the commitment by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and NSW Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) to work together to build community confidence.

The MDBA head of Compliance, Brent Williams, said the latest reporting on progress in 2018-19 showed significant improvements to governance, processes and arrangements for water regulation in the Murray–Darling Basin.

"Governance arrangements developed in the past year have ensured a robust compliance framework for matters such as referral of allegations, internal investigation policies and procedures, and the conduct of audits and reviews," Mr Williams said.

"Of particular note is our collaborative approach to improve the detection of breaches, in which MDBA satellite data is matched on the ground by follow-up investigations by NRAR.

"The joint work program drew from our commitment to address the recommendations of a number of investigations that looked into water management and allegations of water theft in 2017 and 2018. NRAR itself was established in response to the reviews, and has driven a comprehensive program of reform in New South Wales."

NRAR's Chief Regulatory Officer, Grant Barnes, said NRAR used a suite of tools to respond to alleged breaches of water law.

"To date, we have finalised 446 of the 483 legacy cases inherited from the previous water regulation entities. In addition, the MDBA has referred nine allegations of non-compliance to NRAR, six of which we closed or finalised in the reporting year," Mr Barnes said.

"Both agencies were also pleased to fully cooperate with Mr Mick Keelty in his capacity as Northern Basin Commissioner by providing information and briefings, and we will continue to do so as the role transitions to the Inspector General of Murray–Darling Basin Resources from 1 October."

"To ensure consistent progress into the future, NRAR is participating in the water compliance community of practice launched by the MDBA in 2018 to build regulatory capacity and capability among officers in each jurisdiction. Representatives from 15 state and Australian government agencies attended the two forums that have been held to date."

The joint compliance work program of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and NRAR in 2019-20 is focused on further strengthening community confidence that water users across the state are doing the right thing.

The Report on the outcomes of the MDBA–NRAR joint work program 2018-19 is available on the MDBA website.


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