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Basin-wide compliance and enforcement

Compliance is an integral part of water management in the Murray–Darling Basin. All Australians must have trust in the system if the Basin Plan is to succeed.

It is the role of all Basin governments to ensure effective compliance systems are in place and enforced across the Basin.

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and an Independent Panel have conducted a Basin-wide Compliance Review at the request of the Australian Government, to assess the legislative, policy and practical implementation of compliance in water management across the Basin. 

The MDBA and Independent Panel have both released their reports, including actions that the MDBA is committed to, and recommendations for governments to consider.  

The review found compliance systems and activities in some jurisdictions are more effective than in others. All Basin state regulators need be more active, consistent and transparent in enforcing compliance.

The review recommends a range of actions are undertaken by all Basin jurisdictions, including a ‘no meter, no pump’ policy, more transparent compliance policies and reporting of compliance actions, and more effective penalty regimes. 

The review also strongly recommends that governments focus on the development of good quality water resources plans and meet the 30 June 2019 deadline. The plans should include arrangements to ensure adequate protection of environmental flows.

The review has found that the MDBA must be more assertive in performing its compliance and enforcement role across the Basin. It proposes that the MDBA’s compliance powers be available consistently across the Basin, which will require a regulatory amendment to ensure this is the case in the lead up to the accreditation of state water resource plans by 30 June 2019.

The MDBA will revise our compliance and enforcement strategy, adopt a clear escalation pathway for handling allegations of non-compliance, make our expectations for compliance clear, commence an auditing program across the Basin, and report publicly on handling and progress of compliance matters.

The recommendations of both reviews will be taken to the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council and the Council of Australian Governments.

The MDBA has appointed an Independent Assurance Committee in February 2018 to provide advice on the design, implementation and adequacy of the MDBA’s Basin Plan compliance program.

Implementation of Basin Compliance Review recommendations