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Independent River Operations Review Group

The Independent River Operations Review Group (IRORG) is an advisory committee established under the Water Act 2007.

IRORG was originally established with the primary purpose of reviewing the Murray–Darling Basin Authority's (MDBA) performance in river operations and water sharing activities.

Over time, this role has expanded to include reviewing the:

The MDBA directs river operations in the River Murray system in accordance with objectives and outcomes set by the Basin Officials Committee. The objectives and outcomes for river operations in the River Murray system are based around 5 themes, which include:

  • water storage, delivery and accounting
  • River Murray Operations (RMO) assets
  • people and communities
  • environment
  • information and communication.

Annual assessment

At the end of each water year (1 June – 31 May), the MDBA’s performance in managing the river, and its compliance with its documented objectives and outcomes, is assessed by the IRORG.

The IRORG’s assessment process includes interviewing state government officials to assess their satisfaction with the MDBA’s performance, and making recommendations about improvements to river operations, the objectives and outcomes and future Annual Operating Outlooks. The assessments of the past 2 water years (2018–19 and 2019–20) found that the MDBA had fulfilled its obligations.

2019–20 IRORG review

In reviewing the 2019–20 water year, IRORG has found that the MDBA performed well. The MDBA monitored the River Murray system performance closely and responded appropriately with adjustments to operations due to the challenging conditions.

The MDBA also delivered several important initiatives with a focus on improving communication activities to ensure stakeholders are better informed about river operations and water management issues.

Find out more about the River Murray system annual summaries and reviews of river operations.

IRORG members

Gary Smith

Garry Smith

Garry Smith is a qualified civil engineer who has over 40 years of water management experience and expertise. Garry’s skills and expertise have been developed through his extensive work experience in the rural water sector. He was a senior executive with Goulburn–Murray Water (GMW), Australia’s largest rural water services provider, including a period as manager of GMW’s water resource assessment and water systems operations functions. Since founding DG Consulting in 2009, he has extended his experience to include complex water issues across the Murray–Darling Basin and into southern Victoria.

Garry is currently a Director of Melbourne Water, and his previous roles include membership of the Advisory Board for the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, Director of the eWater Co-operative Research Centre, member of the Australian Water Accounting Standards Board and Director of Scope.

Mr Smith was appointed to the Independent River Operations Review Group in 2010.

Brett Tucker

Brett Tucker

Brett Tucker joined IRORG in 2017 and has a career in water resource management and agriculture spanning more than 30 years across a number of roles and organisations, including 20 years’ experience as a Chief Executive and Board Director in both public and private sector.

In 2016, Brett established Blackwatch Consulting, specialising in the provision of strategy, governance and major projects planning and delivery advice to Government agencies, state-owned corporations, private sector corporations, industry groups and project consortia. Internationally, Brett has provided advice to governments and financiers on a range of issues including water sector benchmarking as well as water resource and infrastructure planning. As a Director of Blackwatch, Icon Water and (formerly) the Peter Cullen Trust, Brett also provides mentoring and coaching support to a number of senior managers and prospective industry leaders.

Brett holds an Honours Degree in Rural Science and a Graduate Certificate in Accounting and Finance. Brett was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1998 and is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Peter Hoey

Peter Hoey

Graduating as a civil engineer from the Western Australian Institute of Technology in 1970, Peter Hoey worked in the field of hydrology and natural resources with the private sector and governments in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia.

Peter has been directly involved in South Australia’s contribution to the Murray–Darling Basin Initiative from 1988 and was a Deputy Commissioner of the Murray–Darling Basin Commission for 8 years until 2004.

Until his retirement from the South Australian Public Service in October 2007 he was an Executive Director in the Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation.

Since retirement, Mr Hoey has undertaken a number of tasks for governments and the private sector on a consultative basis. He has chaired the Independent Review of River Operations Group (IRORG) since 2010.

Dr Terry Hillman

Dr Terry Hillman

Terry Hillman has been involved in ecological research since 1962. Since 1974 his research has centred on floodplain river ecosystems including their sustainable exploitation and management. Between 1992 and his retirement in 2001, he served as Director of the Murray–Darling Freshwater Research Centre and Deputy Director of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Freshwater Ecology.

He has received several awards including life membership of the Murray–Darling Association, Honorary DSc (La Trobe), Australian Society for Limnology Hillary Jolly award for outstanding contribution to freshwater science and Member of the Order of Australia (AM).


More information

Updated: 13 Dec 2021