Irrigation in Australia - Policy - The Murray–Darling Basin Agreement

The Murray–Darling Basin Agreement

As diversions for irrigation approached or exceeded the capacity of the Murray–Darling river system, and environmental problems became more serious, the need for a coordinated approach to management of the Basin as a whole became more evident. Following negotiations beginning in 1985 the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement was signed in 1987. In its initial form, it was as an amendment to the River Murray Waters Agreement. Five years later, in 1992, a totally new Murray–Darling Basin Agreement was signed, replacing the River Murray Waters Agreement. The Agreement was given full legal status by the Murray–Darling Basin Act 1993 which was passed by all the contracting governments. Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory later joined the agreement.

The stated purpose of the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement was ‘to promote and coordinate effective planning and management for the equitable, efficient and sustainable use of the water, land and other environmental resources of the Murray–Darling Basin

To achieve this, the Agreement established new institutions at the political, bureaucratic and community levels. These were:

  • the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council (MDBMC);
  • the Murray–Darling Basin Commission (MDBC); and
  • the Community Advisory Committee (CAC).

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