Murray-Darling Basin Authority Communique 11 May


The Murray-Darling Basin Authority met on 10 May 2023 in person on Ngunnawal Country (Canberra) and via videoconference. The meeting was chaired by Sir Angus Houston with all members present.

Sir Angus Houston expressed his gratitude to the communities of the Barwon-Darling region of far-north-west New South Wales for their time and hospitality during the listening tour last week. The great privilege of sitting down and sharing knowledge and perspectives with First Nations people, local government, water managers and community representatives from Moree to Bourke builds on our commitment to strengthen important relationships across the Basin.

The Authority welcomed the Australian Government’s commitment of funding through the Federal Budget for the MDBA to prepare for and deliver the first review of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in 2026.

The Authority welcomed an update from Acting Executive Director, Basin Science and Knowledge, Tony McLeod on planning for the Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields project and the Sustainable Rivers Audit. These projects were funded in the October 2022 budget to update the science that will inform the Basin Plan review.

Executive Director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds updated the Authority on current water resource availability, with the whole-of-Basin water in storage remaining high overall for mid-autumn, at 89% capacity. Key water management activities in the River Murray System were discussed, including airspace management at Hume Dam, as well as the prospect of an El Niño weather pattern developing later in the year.

Authority members welcomed a presentation from New South Wales departmental officials about their engagement approach to recognise First Nations’ perspectives on water management.

Members welcomed a briefing from Associate Professor Rebecca Nelson, the Acting Chair of the Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences (ACSEES) about the committee’s recent work to advise the MDBA’s work program. They noted the process of appointing an ACSEES chair was underway following the resignation of Professor Rob Vertessy from the position in late 2022.

The Authority welcomed a briefing from members of the independent Basin Plan Evaluation Design Panel on the work planned for the 2025 evaluation of the Basin Plan.

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water Deputy Secretary, Lyn O’Connell presented an overview of a range of matters, including the Australian Government’s tender that is now open for strategic water purchase for 44.3 gigalitres per year, the budget outcomes and the recent changes to the department’s structure.

The next Authority meeting will be held in Narrabri on Gamileraay Country on Tuesday 13 June 2023 during the MDBA’s annual water conference, River reflections 2023.

River reflections 2023 provides the space and time for members of the diverse communities of the Murray-Darling Basin to come together to build knowledge and to listen and learn from one another. With a distinct northern Basin flavour, this year’s conference program includes an outstanding line-up of more than 30 presenters and panellists ranging from the international to the local perspective.

Tickets to the conference are open to attend in person or to stream on-line: River reflections conference | Murray-Darling Basin Authority (

Sir Angus Houston (Chair)

Professor Stuart Bunn

Dr Jane Doolan

Ms Roseanne Healy

Ms Susan Madden

Mr Rene Woods

Mr Andrew McConville (Chief Executive)

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