Stronger ties for stronger compliance regimes in the Basin

Joint media release | 20 February 2018

Work to strengthen compliance and enforcement regimes in the Murray–Darling Basin continues apace, with the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) today signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR)—the new independent regulatory body for water compliance in New South Wales.

Chair of the MDBA, the Hon. Neil Andrew AO, said the MoU would underpin strong and cooperative approach to compliance with, and enforcement of, water management rules in the NSW Murray-Darling Basin.

“With so much public attention focused on the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, it is more important than ever that the Australian people can have confidence the Plan designed to protect the future of our most important water resource is being properly implemented, complied with and enforced,” Mr Andrew said.

“Regulatory responsibility for water in the Basin is shared between state governments and the Commonwealth—so it is vitally important that we work effectively with each other.”

The Chair of the independent NRAR Board, Craig Knowles AM FAPI, said the Memorandum of Understanding was an important step in the establishment of the NSW Natural Resources Access Regulator.

“This signing signifies the commitment by both agencies, as the Commonwealth and NSW regulators respectively, to work together to implement and regulate water management laws in NSW.

“We are agreeing to effectively share information and intelligence, conduct joint investigations where necessary, build capability and capacity in both agencies, report transparently, and work to continuously improve compliance—for example, through the development of new monitoring technologies.”

Mr Andrew said the MoU was the latest of the decisive steps taken by the MDBA to strengthen compliance across the entire Basin, including actions arising from the Basin-wide review of compliance completed by the MDBA and an independent panel last year.

“Last week we announced membership of an independent Assurance Committee (IAC) to provide expert advice on the design, implementation and adequacy of the MDBA's Basin Plan compliance program,” Mr Andrew said.

“We have also established an Office of Compliance, strengthened processes and governance arrangements to ensure we are more transparent, assertive and consistent in how we handle allegations of non-compliance.  We have also increased transparency and accountability in the development and accreditation of Water Resource Plans, which will form the cornerstone of compliance once new limits on water take become legally binding on 1 July 2019.

“We will continue our efforts on compliance tirelessly, so all Australians can have faith and trust in the effectiveness of the Basin Plan.”