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The Authority

The Water Act 2007 establishes the Murray­–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and grants it the powers and functions of the previous Murray–Darling Basin Commission, providing a single body responsible for overseeing water resource planning in the Basin.

The 6 member Authority takes advice on Basin-wide strategy and policy and planning from the MDBA and collaborates with the Department of Agriculture; Basin jurisdictions and communities; industry; environmental groups; and government organisations (including the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) to secure Basin water resources.

The Water Act requires the Authority 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, and
  • engage and educate the Australian community about Basin water resources.

The Authority comprises the Chair, our Chief Executive and 4 part time members (1 currently vacant). The Authority members draw on a breadth of expertise and experience in water, economics, the environment, natural resource management and agriculture.

The process for appointments to the Authority is set out in the 2008 Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform and the Commonwealth Water Act 2007. Under the provisions of the Agreement, two of the four part-time members are nominated by the Basin states water ministers and two positions are nominated by the Commonwealth water minister. The Basin state water ministers consider applications against the eligibility requirements, and collectively agree on a nomination to put to the responsible Commonwealth minister. Applications for the Commonwealth nominated positions are considered by the Commonwealth water minister in consultation with the Basin state water ministers.


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

Sir Angus Houston is the Chair of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority. Sir Angus is a respected leader within Australia and is widely sought for his extensive leadership, experience and skills. He 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 and continued commitment to serve the nation in leadership roles.

Sir Angus is Chancellor for the University of the Sunshine Coast and Chair of the Defence South Australia Advisory Board; the Victorian Police Corporate Advisory Group; the University of NSW Canberra Advisory Board; the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and the Supashock Advanced Suspension Advisory Committee.

He is a Board Member of Virgin Australia, Lowy Institute for International Policy, the Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience Thompson Institute; the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, GreaterGood Canberra and the Victorian Police Executive Command.

Sir Angus is a Senior Counsellor for an international business advisory firm, The Cohen Group. He is also a visiting fellow of the Australian National University National Security College. In addition, he is the Ambassador/Patron of numerous charitable organisations including several mental health organisations.

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 2008-2012, 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.

Ms Joanna Hewitt AO

Joanna Hewitt has worked at senior levels of the Australian Public Service in the areas of agriculture, foreign and trade policy. She has also served on corporate, public sector and non-governmental boards. Joanna is the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Group of the Department of Agriculture.

Joanna’s senior government appointments include Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (2004-2007) and Deputy Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Joanna was Commission Chair of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) from 2011-2014. She has worked at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Agriculture Directorate and consulted internationally.

Joanna has a Bachelor of Economics (Hons 1) from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Science (Economics) from the London School of Economics. She is an Officer of the Order of Australia, and has been awarded a Centenary Medal and an honorary doctorate in economics from the University of Western Australia.

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 has recently joined international consulting firm GHD as a Principal Economist in the Natural Resources and Agriculture team. She has also worked in both public and private sector roles, including experience with the NSW Catchment Management Authorities, agricultural consulting firm Hassall & Associates, and accounting firm KPMG. Most recently Ms Madden was the Executive Officer of regional farming group Macquarie River Food & Fibre, a role she held for close to seven years. Over this time she participated in major government planning reform processes including the review of NSW 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 NSW. 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.

Phillip Glyde – Chief Executive

Phillip Glyde joined the Murray–Darling Basin Authority as Chief Executive on 4 January 2016.

Previously, Phillip was a Deputy Secretary at the Department of Agriculture, where he held a number of positions with responsibility for agriculture, fisheries and forestry policy, several corporate and governance functions, as well as international trade and market access, export certification services and their research division – Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

A member of the Australian Public Service since 1980, Phillip has worked on natural resource management, industry and environmental policies in a number of Australian government departments including Prime Minister and Cabinet, Environment and Resources and Energy.

Phillip has also spent some time working overseas including with the Environment Directorate of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris and the Cabinet Office and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the United Kingdom.



Updated: 15 Sep 2020