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Published: 11 August 2011   •   Media release

Statement from the Hon. Craig Knowles, Chair of the Authority

The Authority and states are continuing to progress our cooperative effort in developing the Basin Plan.

The Authority and states are continuing to progress our cooperative effort in developing the Basin Plan.

Since my announcement last week, I have written to the states acknowledging their historic and ongoing commitment and proposed that we agree to a forward program of work that we can all sign on to.

The work will take some extra time, but it will be time well spent.

The States and Territory Governments' roles in this are critical. They have decades of knowledge and they will continue to be partners in the implementation of the plan into the future.

We want to get on with the job and get the draft plan on public exhibition. That's why I've proposed that it'll be 'pens down' in mid-October, to allow a few short weeks to finalise our collective endeavours, get our work to the printers, and have the draft ready for exhibition in November, followed by 20 weeks of consultation.

As is well known, we are moving toward a Plan that will seek balance, respect communities and allow for changes to be made over time - sensibly and with an understanding that the solution is not just about a volume of water being sent down the river, but what you actually do with the water that’s available to you.

Getting the best out of every drop is what this is all about. There is no perfect number, and there are lots of solutions that go way beyond buying water. We need to incorporate infrastructure, adopt more effective and efficient rules about water management, build environmental works to manage water smarter and, most of all, we need all of the governments of Australia to work together.

I want to record my appreciation of the states' willingness to join in and work towards finding these solutions.

The rules that govern water have grown like topsy over 100 years since Federation. Tony Windsor says they need to be sorted and made more efficient. I think he’s right.

But it won't happen unless the States join in.

If the extra time allows a higher degree of collaboration and joint ownership of a plan for the Murray–Darling Basin it will be well and truly worthwhile.

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