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Murray–Darling Basin Authority annual report 2007-08

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is a new independent body established by the Australian Government through the Water Act 2007 (Water Act). The sections of the Water Act relevant to its establishment came into effect on 3 March 2008.

The MDBA is responsible for the integrated management of water resources in the Murray-Darling Basin, including developing and implementing the Basin Plan for the long term sustainability of diversions of surface and ground water. The Basin Plan will also include an Environmental Watering Plan, a Water Quality and Salinity Management Plan, and water trading and transfer rules.

At the meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 26 March 2008, the Commonwealth, the Murray-Darling Basin States and the Australian Capital Territory agreed that the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (MDBC) should be absorbed into the new MDBA. This agreement was formalised at the 3 July 2008 COAG meeting and an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on Murray-Darling Basin Reform was signed. The IGA established the new governance arrangements for the Murray-Darling Basin and included arrangements for critical human needs, comprehensive and consistent trading arrangements across the Basin, and the transition of the MDBC to the MDBA. The latter process is expected to occur in late 2008.

The MDBA commenced operations, and its work on the Basin Plan, on 8 September 2008. On that date Mr Robert Freeman commenced work as the acting Chair and Chief Executive of the Authority. The four part-time positions as Authority members were advertised in July and August 2008 and are expected to be filled in late 2008. The MDBA was not operational in 2007–08, and employed no staff during that period.