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Chief Executive update – July 2022

Andrew McConville

Chief Executive, MDBA

Andrew commenced as Chief Executive of the MDBA in June 2022. With 3 decades of experience in natural resource management, he has held previous leadership roles, both domestic and international, across a range of sectors including agriculture and natural resources. 

Published: 21 July 2022

As the new Chief Executive of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), it’s a pleasure to be bringing you my first monthly update in River Reach.  

The Chief Executive role is one I am genuinely excited and privileged to take on. Coming from the country, I’ve always had a passion for rural and regional Australia and the sustainable management of our most important natural assets for the benefit of all stakeholders. 

For me, the opportunity to lead work where the needs of the environment, industry, communities and our First Nations all intersect with public policy was a challenge too exciting and important to ignore.  

The first few weeks in any new job are always a steep learning curve, but I’ve been aided immensely by the MDBA’s dedicated team of river operators, scientists, engineers, modellers, water managers and administrators, who are deeply committed to the Basin. Thanks to my predecessor Phillip Glyde, and Andrew Reynolds, who acted in the role for almost a year. The MDBA team is in great shape, ready to meet the challenges of an uncertain future.  

It’s very clear to me that we must listen, and we must work together with people from every sector across the Basin. Building trusting and resilient partnerships will continue to be critical as we deliver the Basin Plan and as we look forward to the 2026 Basin Plan Review and beyond.  

In short we must do all we can to collaborate closely and bring the community of stakeholders with us on the journey. We need to have the right people in the room, having the right conversations in order to make the right decisions for the benefit of the Basin. 

Accordingly, I’ve made it a priority during these early days to get out there with open eyes and ears, and take on board the knowledge and experience that so many have been generous to share.  

Over the last few weeks I’ve met peak bodies and representative groups from the environment, agriculture, First Nations, tourism, and local government. Earlier in the month I had the privilege of travelling with our new Minister for Environment and Water, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP during her first official visit to the Basin, and soon I’ll be accompanying our Authority Chair, Sir Angus Houston on a trip through far western NSW, visiting key communities in the Tilpa–Lower Darling region. 

A recent highlight was spending some time with Authority member Rene Woods and meeting some of the Nari Nari Tribal Council Ltd leaders, hearing about the amazing Gayini – an 87,000-hectare expanse of floodplains, rivers and wetlands in the heart of the Basin managed by the Nari Nari People. 

As I stressed to MDBA staff during NAIDOC Week, we will continue to build stronger, deeper and more authentic partnerships with First Nations people as we work together to manage and care for the Basin’s water resources and environment. 

It’s an honour to serve Basin communities in the national interest, and I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can and to working with all stakeholders as we deliver the important work we must undertake on the road ahead. 

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