On 23 July 2019, the Senate resolved to establish the Select Committee on the Multi-Jurisdictional Management and Execution of the Murray Darling Basin Plan. The committee will inquire and report on matters relating to the responsibilities for Commonwealth, state and territory governments arising out of the Murray Darling Basin Plan. It will also examine the effects of the different approaches of the basin states to water resource management in the Murray Darling Basin, and consider the complications in respect of basin-wide or cross jurisdiction oversight. The committee will also consider any bill relation to the Murray Darling Basin referred to it.
The committee is to present its final report on or before 1 November 2020.
The Committee's planned approach to its work
Managing water is a complex undertaking. This is certainly the case in relation to the management and execution of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, through which the Commonwealth and the Basin state and territory governments seek to achieve the best balance between water users, communities and the health and sustainability of Australia's largest and most complex river system.
Given this complexity, the committee recognises the need to approach its work in a methodical and structured manner.
The committee's intended approach, as set out below, is to first invite parties with direct roles and responsibilities under the Basin Plan to respond to the committee's terms of reference. In turn, the committee will invite other interested parties, including members of the public, to participate in the inquiry process.
To follow the committee's progress, you can register for updates by clicking 'Track Committee' on this webpage.
Stage One - Closed submissions process and development of an Issues Paper
In the first instance, the committee will invite written submissions addressing the committee's terms of reference from parties with direct roles and responsibilities under the Basin Plan, including:
- the Murray Darling Basin Authority;
- the Department of Agriculture;
- the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder;
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission;
- the Bureau of Meteorology;
- Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council; and
- Basin state and territory governments.
Drawing on written submissions received and other preliminary work by the committee, the committee will prepare and release an Issues Paper.
Stage Two - Open submissions process and public hearings
The committee will open written submissions to all interested parties. This stage of the committee's work will provide interested stakeholders, including members of the public, with an opportunity to have their say on the matters covered by the committee's terms of reference. The committee may also invite submitters to respond to matters set out in the aforementioned Issues Paper.
The committee will hold public hearings, including in locations throughout the Basin. More detail on hearing locations and hearing programs will be provided in due course.
Stage Three - Develop and present a final report
The committee will prepare a final report, to be tabled in the Senate, which sets out the committee's findings and recommendations. The resolution establishing the committee requires that the committee present its final report on or before 1 November 2020.
Please note that, in addition to its main work (the ‘main inquiry’ listed below under ‘current inquiries’), the committee is also conducting a concurrent inquiry into Constitution Alteration (Water Resources) 2019, a private member’s bill that subject to approval in accordance with section 128 of the Constitution, proposes an alteration to the Constitution to: provide the Commonwealth with the power to make laws in relation to the use and management of water resources that extend beyond the limits of a state; and ensure that any Commonwealth law relating to water resources does not have an overall detrimental effect on the environment.