Terms of reference
On 27 August 2008, the Senate referred the following matters to the
Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport for inquiry and
report by 4 December 2008.
The implications for the long-term sustainable management of
the Murray-Darling Basin system, with particular reference to:
adequacy of current whole-of -basin governance arrangements under the
adequacy of current arrangements in relation to the implementation of the Basin
Plan and water sharing arrangements;
prospects for the management of Ramsar wetlands including the supply of
adequate environmental flows;
to the basin posed by unregulated water interception activities and water
ability of the Commonwealth to bind state and territory governments to meet
their obligations under the National Water Initiative;
adequacy of existing state and territory water and natural resource management
legislation and enforcement arrangements; and
impacts of climate change on the likely future availability of water.
The Senate extended the reporting date to 25 June 2009 to enable the
committee to take further evidence in relation to the terms of reference.
This inquiry is the second part of an inquiry. The first part of the
inquiry was into water management in the Coorong and Lower Lakes. The committee
tabled a report for the first part of the inquiry on 10 October 2008.
The committee notes that a number of submissions and witnesses to Part 1 of the
inquiry also addressed the terms of reference for Part 2 of the inquiry. In so
far as submissions and evidence from Part 1 of the inquiry are relevant to the
committee's deliberations for Part 2 of the inquiry, the committee has considered
those submissions and evidence.
Conduct of inquiry
The inquiry was advertised in The Australian newspaper on 10 and
24 September, 8 and 22 October and 5 November 2008, and on the internet. In
addition to relevant government agencies and departments, the committee invited
a number of key stakeholder groups and individuals to provide a submission. The
committee continued to accept submissions throughout the inquiry.
The committee received 19 submissions to this part of the inquiry,
listed in Appendix 1. Submissions to Part 1 of the inquiry are also listed in
Appendix 1. The committee held public hearings in Canberra on 10, 13 and 16
March 2009. For a full list of witness please refer to Appendix 2.
All relevant submissions for the inquiry and the Hansard transcripts of
the committee's hearings are available on the Australian Parliament's homepage
Structure of the committee's report
Chapter 2 of the report discusses the adequacy of the governance
arrangements under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin
Reform. Chapter 3 discusses the adequacy of the implementation of the Basin
Plan and water sharing agreements.
Chapter 4 of the report considers the long-term sustainable management
of Ramsar wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Chapter 5 discusses the supply of adequate water to environmental assets
in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Chapter 6 outlines the likely impacts of climate change on water
availability in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Chapter 7 considers the risks to the Murray-Darling Basin posed by
unregulated water interception activities.
Chapter 8 of the report summarises other issues raised in the inquiry,
namely: the progress in implementation of the National Water Initiative
reforms and the appropriateness of these reforms to the situation in the
Murray-Darling Basin; and the adequacy of state and territory water and natural
resource management legislation and enforcement arrangements.
The committee appreciates the time and work of all those who provided
oral and written submissions to the inquiry. Their work has assisted the
committee considerably in its inquiry.
A note on references
References in this report are to individual submissions as received by
the committee, not to a bound volume. References to the committee Hansard are
to the proof Hansard: page numbers may vary between the proof and the official
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