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New Chair for Murray-Darling Basin Authority

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The Hon Tony Burke MP Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

New Chair for Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Media release 28 January 2011

The Hon. Craig Knowles has been appointed as Chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Tony Burke, Minister for Water, announced the appointment saying that Craig Knowles would help drive this important reform forward.

"I am determined to deliver a Plan for the Murray-Darling Basin that restores our rivers to health, supports strong regional communities, and ensures continued food production," Mr Burke said.

"This is important reform and following feedback from stakeholders, including governments in the Basin States, I am confident that Craig Knowles is the best person to lead the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and get the reform right.

"Mr Knowles has ten years experience as a state government minister, which included direct experience in the water portfolio and on other natural resource issues.

"Craig Knowles has a strong track record on water reform, and his partnership as a state minister with then Deputy Prime Minister in the Howard Government, John Anderson was one of the keys to the development of the 2004 National Water Initiative.

"Mr Knowles brings together a unique understanding of the complexities of water policy and the concerns of regional communities.

"Craig Knowles has worked with regional communities to achieve reform throughout his career and is widely respected on both sides of politics."

"I am confident that he will hit the ground running, making consultation with communities a priority.

"I would like to acknowledge the outgoing Chair, Mr Mike Taylor, for his contribution to a smooth transition."

Mr Knowles' appointment will be for four years commencing from 1 February 2011.


The Hon. Craig Knowles was a State Minister for Planning and Housing (1995-99), Health (1999-2003), Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (2003-August 2005) and Forests and Lands (2003-January 2005).

He was responsible for a range of government agencies including: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources, Lands Department, Sydney Water, Hunter Water, Landcom, State Forests, and was a member of the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council.

Prior to entering Parliament, Mr Knowles had worked in property, land management, planning and valuation, in both the private sector (1978-1986) and for NSW public sector agencies, including Macarthur Development Corporation, Premier's Department, Office of State Development and Department of Business and Consumer Affairs (1986-1990).

Mr Knowles is widely credited, along with then Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson as a key driver of the National Water Initiative in 2003 and 2004. The overall objective of the National Water Initiative is to achieve a nationally compatible market, regulatory and planning based system of managing surface and groundwater resources for rural and urban use that optimises economic, social and environmental outcomes.