Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR)

About NRAR | Our board | Establishment of NRAR | Program of work | Policies, procedures, guidelines & fact sheetsDecisions & determinations

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Murray River

What's new

The NRAR is conducting a range of recruitment over the coming months. Current recruitment can be accessed at

NRAR Executive team

For more information on the NRAR Executive you can read the media release on their appointment.

Establishment of NRAR

The NRAR was established following Mr Ken Matthews’ investigation into water management and compliance conducted in 2017. Mr Matthews called for an independent and more effective regulator with total carriage of the compliance and enforcement of water regulation in NSW. Prior to the NRAR, these functions were split between the department and WaterNSW.

The NRAR became operational on 30 April 2018.

Download the NRAR's Establishment Plan, a key recommendation of the Ken Matthews AO final report.

Download the Establishment Plan - progress report January-June 2018

About NRAR

The NRAR is an independent regulator established under the Natural Resources Access Regulator Act 2017. The current regulatory focus for the NRAR is water regulation.

The principal objectives of the NRAR are:

  • to ensure effective, efficient, transparent and accountable compliance and enforcement measures for the natural resources management legislation
  • to maintain public confidence in the enforcement of the natural resources management legislation.

In July 2018 the NRAR released Embedding Ethics into NRAR's 'DNA', the ethical framework to guide NRAR policies and practices and employee performance.

The NRAR has an independent board that is responsible for decisions relating to the regulator's compliance and enforcement functions. The board started work in late 2017 on the formation and strategic direction of the NRAR.

In March 2018, Grant Barnes was appointed as the NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer – responsible for the day to day operations of the agency.

Help stop illegal water activities

While most water users follow the rules and meet requirements, some people carry out illegal water activities—sometimes these actions are deliberate and sometimes they happen because people do not know the law.

Water theft and harming a water source can threaten water supplies for legitimate water users and harm the environment, and are serious crimes.

To make a confidential report on any suspicious activities, contact the Natural Resources Access Regulator:

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Our board

The NRAR Board consists of three members appointed by the minister. The board’s inaugural members were appointed on 17 December 2017.

Whilst the board reports to the minister, it is an independent body. Any directions by the minister must be made in accordance with the provisions of the Natural Resources Access Regulator Act 2017.

The minister has issued a letter of expectations to the NRAR Board.

The board operates under the NRAR Board Charter and its members are required to adhere to the NRAR Board Code of conduct. The board's governance and working arrangements are outlined in the NRAR Board Operating manual

The board was meeting fortnightly until late June 2018 and now meets monthly, with the capacity to call urgent meetings on an ad hoc basis and consider matters offline. The board will conduct a regional meeting on 12 September in Dubbo.

NRAR Board

Craig Knowles AO, Chair

Craig KnowlesMr Knowles statutory appointments include as Chair, Murray Darling Basin Authority (2011-2015) and a member of the Central Sydney Planning Committee (2009-2015). In his role as Chairman of the MDBA, Mr Knowles represented Australia at the 2014 United Nations General Assembly Forum on Water and Energy as Part of the UN mission to develop Sustainable Development Goals in the context of global climate change.

In 2015, Mr Knowles was awarded The Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for 'significant service to local government, to the Parliament of New South Wales, and to the community through a range of health initiatives'. In the same year, he was also awarded the River Murray Medal for 'outstanding service toward restoring the health of the River Murray' (the first non-engineer/river operator to have received the medal in its 162 year history).

Mr Knowles was a senior Minister in the New South Wales Government holding a variety of portfolios including Health (1999-2003), Planning and Housing (1995-1999), Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (2003-2005) and Forests and Lands (2003-2005).

Mr Knowles was a Member of NSW Parliament for 15 years (1990-2005) representing the electorates of Macquarie Fields and Moorebank. He was also a Member of Liverpool City Council for 13 years (1982-1994) serving as Mayor during that period. Prior to these roles, Mr Knowles worked in the NSW Premiers Department (Office of State Development), The Department of Business and Consumer Affairs, The Macarthur Development Corporation and in private practice as a valuer.

Ilona Millar

Ilona MillarMs Millar has more than 18 years’ experience in environmental law and policy and a strong background in natural resource management and climate change law. She has been involved in legislative and policy reviews and advices on the implementation of the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) and the Water Act 2008 (Cwlth). Ms Millar was previously the Principal Solicitor at the NSW Environmental Defender’s Office oversighting litigation work related to natural resource management.

Ms Millar joined Baker McKenzie's Environmental Markets Practice in May 2008 and is currently Special Counsel. Ms Millar has worked at the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) and International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in London. Before that she was the Principal Solicitor of the Environmental Defender's Office Ltd (NSW). She has been a casual member of the NSW Planning Assessment Commission since 2015 and was a board member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition from 2010-2015.

Bruce Brown

Bruce BrownMr Brown is currently a Director of Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Ltd (also Chair, Finance & Risk Committee) and Coleambally Mutual Co-operative Ltd. He is also a Director of Dampier Street Investments Ltd (formerly Tamworth Rural). He has served as both Director and Member of a number of government committees (state and federal) and was a university lecturer in Agricultural Economics and Farm Management prior to transitioning to the private sector via a lobbying role with a farmer organisation.

Between 1986 and 2003 he has worked with major agribusiness and finance entities including in various general manager roles with NZI Securities, Elders Pastoral, Commonwealth Development Bank, ANZ Banking Group and Queensland Cotton Holdings Ltd. Mr Brown also held general manager roles in the Namoi Catchment Management Authority and the North Coast Local Land Services which were involved in natural resource management, agricultural advisory services, biosecurity and emergency management activities between 2005 and 2017.

Board minutes

From January to June 2018, the board met fortnightly. From July 2018, the board meets monthly.

Policies, procedures, guidelines and fact sheets

Decisions and determinations

NRAR has the authority to determine, subject to legal advice, whether enforcement actions under natural resources management legislation should be commenced.

Decisions and determinations will be published on this website.

An Enforcement Committee was formed in June 2018. The committee is an integral part of the decision making process at various stages of an investigation and ensures consistent, collaborative decision making is made within NRAR in accordance with the principles set out in the Regulatory Framework, and where appropriate the Prosecution Guidelines.

Committee members include the Chief Regulatory Officer (Chair), Director Water Enforcement Team and both Directors East and West Operations.

Stakeholder engagement

On 5 June, the Board Chair, Craig Knowles AO, addressed stakeholders at the All Stakeholder Advisory Panel (All SAP) conference. Mr Knowles' speech was wide ranging, discussing NRAR and it's activities since launch, the broader water reform agenda and the opportunity presented through the water crisis.

The NRAR Board is meeting with key stakeholders, government agencies, environmental groups and industry associations to hear their views and perspectives and inform its forward direction. Records of discussions with stakeholders are available below.

The NRAR moved quickly to strengthen water compliance and enforcement regimes in the Murray–Darling Basin, signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA). Read the media release

Since taking up the role, NRAR Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes has visited all NRAR field staff and met with major stakeholders. On 9 August Grant delivered the key-note speech at the Cotton Australia conference and on 29 August he presented at the Murray Darling Association annual conference.