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Part 3: Delivery of high-quality advice to Council, and achievement of its endorsed priorities, through strengthened capacity of the Commission and the Commission Office

Strategy 3.6
Ensure effective institutional and governance arrangements are in place

The strengthening of corporate governance and MDBC committee support and administration are the focus of this strategy. The Audit and Compliance Committee of the MDBC oversights governance issues and the MDBC secretariat coordinates an input by the rest of the MDBC Office into committee decision support.

Institutional and governance arrangements

The Audit and Compliance Committee provides independent advice to the Commission on accounting and legal compliance, corporate governance and risk.

The Committee’s independent chairman, Mr Paul McGrath, provides regular written reports directly to the President.

MDBC is developing and embedding a risk management culture throughout the organisation in accordance with good practice.

The following key elements are in place:

  • An assessment of business risk for the MDBC was undertaken at an organisational level in November and December 2006.
  • An assessment of business risk at the MDBC divisional level was also undertaken, representing a major achievement in implementing a risk management culture within the MDBC. The MDBC 2007–08 Business Plan and Budget includes both organisational and divisional risk matrixes, along with treatment plans and schedules.

More recently, risk management methodology has been implemented in a number of cross-organisational activities:

  • A risk management consultancy has been contracted to assist in achieving a cultural change that embeds risk management into current work practices.
  • A risk assessment process for both domestic and overseas travel has been developed and is awaiting endorsement by the Executive.
  • A MDBC Safety Risk Management Policy has been endorsed by the OH&S Committee.
  • Risk management training for supervisors is being developed as part of the cultural change process.

Murray-Darling Basin Agreement Amendment Bill 2006

The Murray-Darling Basin Agreement Amendment Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on 7 December 2006. Partner governments are introducing mirror amending legislation into their parliaments.

The Ministerial Council meeting of 29 September 2006 agreed, in part, that Council and the Commission would act in accordance with the Amending Agreement during the period it takes for the parliaments of each contracting government to ratify the legislation.

The meeting of 29 September also agreed that this decision would be confirmed through an exchange of letters. The Chair wrote to First Ministers on 5 January 2007 outlining the Ministerial Council’s decision.

Further, at the Ministerial Council meeting of 25 May 2007, it was agreed that the financial limit of expenditure by the Chief Executive as specified in the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement should be increased from $2 million to $10 million.

Committee support and administration

The Secretariat supports the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council (see Appendix A) and its Community Advisory Committee (see Appendix B and Community Advisory Committee Annual Report). The Secretariat also provides support for the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (Appendix C) and the five high-level committees (Appendix D).

The Ministerial Council met twice during the year, on 29 September 2006 and 25 May 2007. Both meetings were preceded by a joint meeting with the Community Advisory Committee. Decisions by the Ministerial Council are made by unanimous agreement.

The Commission met five times during the reporting period, on 9 and 29 August 2006, 25 September 2006 via teleconference, 5 December 2006 and 24 April 2007. There were 18 meetings of the Commission’s high-level committees. In addition, the Secretariat issues out-of-session decisions for Council, Commission and high-level committee response.

The record of all agendas, papers, minutes and reports for these committees is managed by the Secretariat, as are membership details. Appendix E provides a summary of high-level meetings and participation.