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The Authority

The Water Act 2007 establishes the Murray­–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), the Statutory Agency which supports the Authority Board. 'The Authority' is comprised of the Chair, Chief Executive, Indigenous member and 4 part-time members appointed by the Governor-General in accordance with sections 177 and 178 of the Water Act 2007.

Authority members are appointed based on their specialised skills and experience in areas relevant to water resource management, governance, environmental, community and indigenous matters.

The Authority takes advice on Basin-wide strategy, and policy and planning, from the MDBA and collaborates with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (the Department), the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and Basin jurisdictions. It also receives advice from Basin communities, industry, environmental groups and other government organisations (including the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) to secure Basin water resources.

Under the Water Act 2007 the Authority is legislated to undertake a number of functions:

  • prepare and review the Basin Plan
  • measure, monitor and record the quality and quantity of the Basin's water resources and condition of water-dependent ecosystems
  • conduct research to improve knowledge on Basin water resources and water-dependent ecosystems
  • to develop, or assist the development of, measures for the equitable and sustainable use of Basin water resources
  • to make recommendation to the Commonwealth, the Basin states and corresponding agencies, on any matters the Authority considers may impact the quality or quantity of the Basin water resource
  • collect, utilise, and share information about Basin water resources and water dependent ecosystems
  • engage and educate the Australian community about Basin water resources.

In response to the Compliance Compact outcomes, the Australian Government committed to review the Authority appointments process to ensure that a broad range of experience is considered as part of the selection process to appoint Authority members. In November 2019 the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council agreed to a new process whereby the Department, in consultation with the Basin Officials, advertise, shortlist and manage a more streamlined appointment process on behalf of the Basin governments.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d) – Chair

Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d) was awarded the Knight of the Order of Australia in January 2015 for extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit in service to Australia, through distinguished service in the Australian Defence Force, continued commitment to serve the nation in leadership roles, particularly the national responses to the MH370 and MH17 disasters, and in a variety of roles in the community.

Sir Angus retired from the military in July 2011 after serving for 41 years. He was Chief of the Australian Defence Force from 2005 to 2011 and prior to that was Chief of Air Force for 4 years.

Sir Angus is Chancellor for the University of the Sunshine Coast, Chair of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and Chairs several other boards. He also serves as a board member for numerous organisations as well as being a visiting fellow of the Australian National University National Security College. In addition, he is the Ambassador/Patron for a number of charitable organisations, including several mental health charities. Sir Angus has been awarded 4 honorary doctorate degrees from the University of South Australia, the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales and Griffith University.

Sir Angus has extensive experience in bringing different interests together to work towards a common goal and is well placed to lead the Authority for the next stage of implementation ahead.

Professor Stuart Bunn

Professor Stuart Bunn is the Director of the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. Stuart’s major research interests are in the ecology of river and wetland systems with a particular focus on the science to underpin river management. This research has resulted in more than 250 technical publications, most of which are refereed journal papers and conference proceedings. Stuart has extensive experience working with international and Australian government agencies on water resource management issues.

From 2008 to 2012, Stuart was a National Water Commissioner, and he has previously served as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel for the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum and as a Director of Land and Water Australia. He is currently Chair of the Science Committee for Healthy Land and Water and a member of the International Planning Committee for the Sustainable Water Future Programme.

Stuart was appointed Chair of the (MDBA) Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences in 2016. He currently plays an observer role.

Dr Jane Doolan

Dr Jane Doolan has over 25 years experience in sustainable water resource management, providing policy advice at senior levels to both the Australian and state governments on issues such as urban and rural water supply and security, national water reform, river health, environmental water allocation, catchment management, and the management of water during drought and climate change. Her career encompasses intergovernmental policy development and negotiations, particularly in relation to the management of the Murray–Darling Basin, and the oversight of major water projects and programs.

Jane is currently a Director of Southern Rural Water Corporation in Victoria, a Founding Member of the Water Policy Group, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra and is the independent chair of several consultative and advisory committees. In March 2022, she completed a term as the Environment Commissioner with the Australian Productivity Commission. Previous positions include Professorial Fellow in Natural Resource Governance at the University of Canberra, Commissioner with the National Water Commission, Chair of the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre and Deputy Secretary for Water in the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

Ms Roseanne Healy

Roseanne Healy has over 20-years of experience in corporate management across agriculture food and wine, technology and infrastructure sectors. This includes extensive expertise in due diligence and corporate governance, strategy and investment, and analysis.

Roseanne started in corporate advisory and investment banking as an economics and market analyst for ASX 100 and 200 companies in the resources, retail, and automotive sectors. As a tribunal member for the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs and Chief Executive Officer of SA Great, she influenced South Australia’s economic credentials for investment attraction, spanning agriculture, aquaculture, food and wine, technology, and infrastructure.

As a South Australian, she knows how important a healthy working river system is ... from north to south.

Roseanne is currently Managing Director of Corporate Advisory, Enterprise Corporation. She is a board member of Grains Research and Development Corporation and National Water Grid Advisory Body. She is Chair of Cashflow Manager, Dairysafe and non-executive director of Dairy Australia, Airborne Research Australia and GP Partners.

Ms Susan Madden

Ms Susan Madden brings skills, experience and networks gained from a background in family farming, a First-Class Honours degree in Agricultural Economics, and 15 years working in agricultural and natural resource management-based roles. Her leadership capabilities and contribution to agricultural and natural resource management over this time have been recognised through a number of industry awards and achievements.

Ms Madden is a principal economist with the international consulting firm GHD in the Natural Resources and Agriculture team. In 2021 Ms Madden was appointed as Assistant Commissioner of the New South Wales Natural Resources Commission. She has also worked in both public and private sector roles, including experience with the New South Wales Catchment Management Authorities, agricultural consulting firm Hassall and Associates, and accounting firm KPMG.

Most recently Ms Madden was the Executive Officer of regional farming group Macquarie River Food and Fibre, a role she held for close to 7 years. Over this time she participated in major government planning reform processes including the review of New South Wales Water Sharing Plans and development of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, as well as water pricing determinations undertaken by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Ms Madden lives in Dubbo in central west New South Wales. She is Chair of the Central West Local Land Services (commencing in March 2017) and sits on the Local Land Services Board of Chairs. She is a Fellow of the Peter Cullen Trust and a finalist in the 2013 Australian Cotton Industry Young Achiever of the Year Award.

Mr Rene Woods

Rene Woods is a Nari Nari man from southwest New South Wales. He has had a long involvement in Gayini (water) for Aboriginal people across the Basin.

Rene is a strong advocate for First Nations people in the Basin and has worked in communities in both the public and non-government organisation sectors of the Basin. He is currently employed by the Nature Conservancy Australia as a Conservation Officer and has seen what can happen for communities that have Gayini and land under their ownership and control. He believes that together we can achieve a strong healthy river system and healthier communities.

He previously held the position of chairperson of the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations. He has also been vice-chair of the Nari Nari Tribal Council. He has also held several other positions including with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries Aboriginal Water Initiative and Murrumbidgee Valley Water New South Wales Customer Advisory Group. Rene was also a member of the National Cultural Flows Research Committee and Independent Panel for the Assessment of Social and Economic Conditions of Murray–Darling Basin communities.

Andrew McConville, Chief Executive MDBA

Andrew commenced as Chief Executive of the MDBA in June 2022. Before joining the MDBA he was the Chief Executive of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, a position he held since 2019.

Andrew worked for more than a decade with Syngenta, one of the world’s leading agribusinesses where he held several senior roles, including the Global Head of External Affairs and Communication based in Basel, Switzerland. Prior to this, Andrew ran his own agribusiness public relations consultancy company and worked as Head of Corporate Affairs for Business at the National Australia Bank.

Andrew holds a first-class honours degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of New England and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Oxford.

Updated: 22 Jul 2022