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Murray-Darling Basin Authority—Report for 2020-21


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MURRAY—DARLING BASIN AUTHORITY

ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

© Commonwealth of Australia 2021

ISSN 2209-8720 (print)

ISBN 978-1-922396-55-6 (online)

ISBN 978-1-922396-56-3 (print)

MDBA publication number: 25/21

Unle

ss otherwise stated and with the exception of the

Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the MDBA logo, all photographs,

graphics and trademarks, this publication is licensed under a

Creative Commons 4.0 International licence.

The MDBA’s preference is that you attribute this publication, and

any materials sourced from it, with the following wording:

Title: Murray-Darling Basin Authority Annual Report 2020-21

The MDBA provides this information in good faith, but to the

extent permitted by law, the MDBA and the Commonwealth

exclude all liability for adverse consequences arising directly or

indirectly from using any information or materials contained in

this publication.

The MDBA makes its documents and information available in

accessible formats. On some occasions, the highly technical nature

of the material means that we cannot make some sections fully

accessible. If you have problems accessing the document, please

contact us.

Cover image: European Space Agency Sentinel-2 satellite

images of floodplains near Mungindi and Boomi, as seen on

13 March 2021 (bottom) and 02 April 2021 (top), showing

Short-wave Infrared (SWIR) which highlights moisture and

vegetation. MDBA uses this imagery in its Basin-wide remote

sensing monitoring program, MDBSat, which produces a fresh

image of the Basin every 5 days at a resolution of 10 m. The

system supports important ongoing MDBA work programs,

including environmental monitoring and evaluation.

This annual report is available online on the MDBA’s website:

https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/mdba-annual-report

Contact details

1800 630 114 (free call)

02 6279 0100

(Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm AEST)

Email: engagement@mdba.gov.au

Postal address:

Murray-Darling Basin Authority GPO Box 1801,

Canberra City, ACT 2601

Acknowledgement of First Nations Australians

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority pays respect to the Traditional Owners and their Nations of the Murray-Darling Basin. We acknowledge their deep cultural, social, environmental, spiritual and economic connection to their lands and waters.

We greatly value the guidance and support we received from First Nations throughout the Basin, especially the Murray Lower Darling Indigenous Nations and the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations and our many First Nations friends and colleagues.

Aboriginal Nations of the Murray-Darling Basin

Barapa Barapa Jarowair Ngadjuri Wadi Wadi

Barkindji (Paakantyi) Kambuwal Ngambri Wailwan

Barunggam Kaurna Ngarabal Wakka Wakka

Bidjara Kunja Ngarigu Watjobaluk

Bigambul Kwiambul Ngarrindjeri Waywurru

Budjiti Latji Latji Ngemba Weki Weki

Dhudhuroa Maljangapa Ngintait Wemba Wemba

Dja Dja Wurrung Mandandanji Ngiyampaa Wergaia

Euahlayi Maraura Ngunnawal/Ngunawal Wiradjuri

Giabel Mardigan Nyeri Nyeri Wolgalu

Githabul Murrawarri Peramangk Yaitmathang

Gomeroi/Kamilaroi Mutthi Mutthi Tati Tati Yita Yita

Gunggari/Kungarri Nari Nari Taungurung Yorta Yorta

Gwamu (Kooma)

Contents

Letter to the Minister ................................................................................................................................................................................. 1

Part 1 Overview ....................................................................................................................................................3

Foreword by the Authority Chair........................................................................................................................................................... 4

Chief Executive’s review ........................................................................................................................................................................... 5

About the Murray-Darling Basin ........................................................................................................................................................... 9

About the Murray-Darling Basin Authority .................................................................................................................................... 13

Part 2 Performance ........................................................................................................................................... 21

Reporting approach ................................................................................................................................................................................. 23

Performance snapshot ............................................................................................................................................................................ 24

Goal 1—Drive the successful implementation of the Basin Plan .............................................................................................. 26

Goal 2—Strengthen the culture of compliance in the Murray-Darling Basin ....................................................................... 38

Goal 3—Efficiently and effectively operate the River Murray system for partner governments ................................ 46

Goal 4—Improve transparency and confidence in the Basin Plan ........................................................................................... 60

Goal 5—Apply the best available science and knowledge to the management of the Murray-Darling Basin ............. 66

Looking ahead to 2021-22 ................................................................................................................................................................... 73

Part 3 Management and accountability ...................................................................................................... 75

Governance ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 76

Organisational structure......................................................................................................................................................................... 83

Corporate accountability ........................................................................................................................................................................ 88

People and culture ................................................................................................................................................................................... 99

Part 4 CFO report and financial statements .............................................................................................107

Chief Finance Officer’s report .............................................................................................................................................................108

Financial statements ..............................................................................................................................................................................113

Appendices ........................................................................................................................................................141

Glossary .....................................................................................................................................................................................................142

Abbreviations ..........................................................................................................................................................................................145

Annual report requirements ...............................................................................................................................................................147

Details of accountable authority during the reporting period 2020-21 ............................................................................150

Index ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................154

Contents | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | iii

iv | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Introduction

Introduction

About this annual report

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority Annual Report 2020-21 gives an overview of performance from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. It reviews performance against the purpose and goals published in the Portfolio Budget Statements and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority Corporate Plan 2020-21.

Part 1 Includes a foreword by the Authority Chair, the Chief Executive’s review and an

overview of the Murray-Darling Basin and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Part 2 Presents the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s performance during 2020-21

and priorities for the next reporting period

Part 3 Has governance and accountability details including the organisational structure

and how the business is run

Part 4 Contains the financial statements and the independent auditor’s report

Appendices Contain the glossary, abbreviations, table of annual report requirements,

details of accountable authority and index

Letter to the Minister

Office of the Chief Executive

Office locations Adelaide, Albury-Wodonga, Canberra, Goondiwindi, Griffith, Mildura, Murray-Bridge, Toowoomba

1800 230 067

mdba.gov.au

GPO Box 1801, Canberra ACT 2601

Page 1

Ref: EC21/000717

The Hon. Keith Pitt MP Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia PO Box 6022 Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Minister

It is my pleasure to present the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) annual report for the 2020 - 21 financial year.

During the year the MDBA has continued to:

• drive the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in collaboration with communities, governments and industries of the Basin • direct the sharing of water of the River Murray on behalf of Basin governments.

The report has been prepared in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cwlth) (s. 46) and the Water Act 2007 (Cwlth) (s. 214).

I certify that the MDBA has prepared fraud risk assessments, fraud control plans and practices, fraud prevention, detection, investigation, and reporting, and data collection in compliance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework. I also certify that I have taken all reasonable measures to minimise the incidence of fraud in the MDBA.

I would like to acknowledge the commitment of MDBA staff and their contribution to achieving a healthy, productive Murray-Darling Basin.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Reynolds

7 October 2021

Letter to the Minister | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 1

01

Part 1

Overview

Foreword by the Authority Chair 4

Chief Executive’s review 5

About the Murray-Darling Basin 9

About the Murray-Darling Basin Authority 13

4 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Foreword by the Authority Chair

Foreword by the Authority Chair

The Murray-Darling Basin is one of Australia’s most important water catchments, given we live on the driest inhabited continent on Earth. The Basin’s sustainability now and into the future is critical for the nation’s water security. Our top priority at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority is the wellbeing and resilience of the Basin’s river systems, its people and places.

In the past 12 months,

my first year as Chair

of the Murray-Darling

Basin Authority, I have

had the privilege of

visiting many of the

Basin’s communities

and walked along

many riverbanks and

waterways, COVID-19 restrictions permitting. I’ve

met with First Nations people and heard their deep

economic, spiritual and cultural connections to the

rivers. I’ve met with farmers who grow the food and

fibre that fuel local economies. I’ve engaged with

leaders of hundreds of local communities, with river

operators and with the people who focus their skill

on the needs of the natural environment.

Whether you’re in Cunnamulla, Goondiwindi, Dubbo,

Wagga Wagga, Canberra, Mildura, Shepparton,

Renmark, Murray Bridge or anywhere in between,

we have one defining connection that makes us

dependent on each another - the health of our

network of rivers, creeks and groundwater systems.

It is clear to me from these conversations that we

have a shared vision for a healthy river system, one

that can support successful businesses and resilient

communities. This gives me heart, because there are

significant challenges on the horizon, not least of

which is climate change.

As you will see in this annual report, our team of

river operators, scientists, engineers, modellers,

water managers and administrators has continued to

pursue the best possible outcomes. Our responsibility

is to take a Basin-wide view and advocate for the

entirety of this most important water catchment.

This means monitoring and regularly reporting to

governments and the community on the progress

and outcomes of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Expert management of the River Murray on behalf

of the Basin governments has also ensured water

is delivered to towns, irrigators, wetlands and

floodplains - from times of drought to full dams.

One of the most significant steps in the past year has

been to welcome the appointment of the Authority’s

first Indigenous member. It is immensely reassuring

that through the leadership of Rene Woods, the First

Nations people of the Murray-Darling Basin are now

at the table where decisions are made.

With engaged communities and an impressive store

of strong local, regional and industry leaders, the

future of the Basin is in good hands. It is critical

that we all pull in same direction, constructively,

collaboratively and taking a whole-of-Basin approach

- the future of the Basin depends on it.

I commend to you this annual report.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d)

Authority Chair

Chief Executive’s review

Chief Executive’s review | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 5

I am delighted to present the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) annual report for 2020-21. The year has seen a substantial turnaround in seasonal conditions for many parts of the Basin, with more rain than previous years, although this has not been universal. Recovery from drought is neither a fast nor easy process, and it will take many years for renewal and restoration. For many, greater abundance of water has brought hope and positivity.

I have certainly

enjoyed seeing the

broader benefits that

more water in the

system has brought

to many areas, while

acknowledging there’s

still a long way to go

for some.

We also operated in a year of uncertainty of the

implications of COVID-19 for Basin communities and

our staff. We have continued to embed innovative

solutions to get on with our work, but we have

missed some of the planned opportunities to meet

face to face with stakeholders. COVID-19 has also

impacted the ability of our partner governments

to maintain momentum engaging communities and

delivering some projects.

I am pleased to report that progress was made on

all our priorities, even though some timeframes will

now extend into the new financial year.

Implementation of the Basin Plan

This year was key in working with Basin

governments to assess water resource plans (WRPs),

including the transition to implement sustainable

diversion limit (SDL) accounting. WRPs are a key part

of implementing the Basin Plan, as they set out the

rules on water management at a local or catchment

level. The assessment of WRPs for accreditation

was behind schedule, which in turn impacted the

water accounting and compliance activities. WRPs

are accredited and in operation in Queensland,

South Australia, Victoria and the Australian

Capital Territory.

In December 2020 The Basin Plan 2020 Evaluation

was published. It was a stocktake on the Basin Plan,

identifying what was working and where resets

are needed. It provided strong recommendations

to governments about the benefits of the reform to

date and the challenges ahead.

6 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Chief Executive’s review

Operating the River Murray system for partner governments

We maintain and operate the River Murray system

on behalf of partner governments and in accordance

with the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement to achieve

a healthy working Basin through the integrated

management of water resources.

Our success is reviewed by the Independent River

Operations Review Group (IRORG), which looks

closely at our activities in managing this vital

resource. We met all 6 performance measures,

with most asset activities delivered and progressed.

Our focus to maintain and improve the health of

the River Murray system (and the Basin where

relevant) in accordance with the Murray-Darling

Basin Agreement and associated agreements was

substantially met. The only issue was the target

for maintaining or improving the environmental

health of key icon sites through The Living Murray

program. The environmental health indicators

in this annual report are based on monitoring

results from the previous year (2019-20), which

was the third consecutive year of hot and dry

conditions across the southern Basin. These difficult

conditions meant less water for the environment

was available and contributed to several sites

declining in environmental health compared with

the previous year.

Improving transparency and confidence in the Basin Plan

Our comprehensive regionalisation program to

substantially strengthen our presence and activities

in all regions of the Basin has paid dividends. By the

end of the year, we had one-third of our workforce

in regions. Our highly skilled and motivated staff are

in Adelaide, Albury-Wodonga, Goondiwindi, Griffith,

Mildura, Murray Bridge and Toowoomba, as well as

Canberra. This has enabled us to forge strong and

connected relationships at local levels that inform

and enhance our work on wider scales. I firmly

believe our regional presence will continue to build

greater transparency in our work and confidence in

the Basin Plan and river operations.

Our updated communication and engagement

strategy has also improved stakeholder awareness

and understanding, as identified in a broad-reaching

stakeholder survey.

Our regional operations have improved coordination

with and between partner agencies and enabled us

to engage more proactively across the Basin.

Strengthening the culture of compliance

The MDBA monitored and enforced compliance with

the Basin Plan and published results of compliance

and regulatory activities, a vitally important task

to achieve a healthy working Basin. Six measures

of success were assessed to inform compliance

performance. Three of these measures were met and

3 were partially met, but I am pleased to advise clear

progress was made against the identified activities.

We also assisted with the final stages of

transferring our Office of Compliance across to the

Inspector-General of Water Compliance, due for

completion in August 2021.

Applying best science and knowledge

Water management is complex and often means

managing competing demands. Therefore, equitable

and sustainable use of the Basin’s resources needs

to be underpinned by collaboration and access to

the best information and science. We back our

decisions with solid data and information to build

trust and provide transparency about our water

management decisions.

We don’t do this alone - our advisory committees

such as the Basin Community Committee, the

Advisory Committee for Social, Economic and

Environmental Sciences and the Independent

Assurance Committee have been integral to our

success. Importantly, we also ensure engagement

with First Nations means their knowledge is

integrated into water management where possible.

As part of our focus on the future we have

developed a climate workplan to guide our work

from now until 2026 towards a sustainable,

productive and resilient Murray-Darling Basin

under changing climate conditions.

Looking forward

While in the short term we expect above-average

rainfall, the longer-term outlook is for less water

in the Basin. We need improved knowledge to

understand and respond to changing conditions in

the Basin over time, which will require all Basin

governments, industries and communities to

collaborate, allowing us to plan more confidently.

In the year ahead, our priorities will be to drive

the successful implementation of the Basin Plan,

to operate the River Murray efficiently and

effectively for partner governments, and to improve

transparency of, and confidence in, our work.

We will continue to boost collaboration and

improve transparency about water management

to build stakeholder confidence through our new

communication and engagement initiatives. Key to

this is partnering with others as much as possible

to connect and help stakeholders navigate the

complexity of water management.

The COVID-19 pandemic will influence and shape

how all Australians connect, communicate and

engage, and the MDBA is no different. We will

continue to use innovative approaches to reach and

engage with communities and stakeholders, but when

we are able to, we look forward to opportunities for

face-to-face engagement so we can keep building

genuine and meaningful relationships with local and

regional Basin communities.

Progressing water reform by implementing the

Murray-Darling Basin Plan over the coming year will

continue to be central to our work. Our monitoring

and evaluation capabilities will also ramp up in

the coming year, to provide the evidence and

assurance that water management across the Basin

is improving and to identify where it isn’t. We’ll work

closely with local communities and state agencies

to get the greatest benefit from their efforts and to

make sure local insights are taken on board. This

work will continue through to 2025, when we will

undertake a stocktake to examine what’s working

and what’s not, considering input from the science

community and community representatives. In 2026,

we’ll conduct a formal review of the Basin Plan. In

the year ahead we’ll be working hard to develop an

approach, with stakeholder input, for the 2026 Basin

Plan Review.

On behalf of the Chief Executive, Phillip Glyde, and

the MDBA’s executive team, I thank all our staff

for their efforts this year in supporting the Basin

Plan and running the Murray River on behalf of

Basin governments. It’s undoubtedly in our national

interest to continue our mission to rebalance the

scales and create a sustainable long-term footing for

industries and communities.

Chief Executive’s review | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 7

Acting Chief Executive Andrew Reynolds

Figure 1: Map of the Murray-Darling Basin and key facts as at 24 December 2020

8 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | About the Murray-Darling Basin

About the Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray-Darling Basin is a large area of south-eastern Australia where water flows through a system of interconnected rivers and lakes. The Basin stretches from southern Queensland through New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and into South Australia. One of the flattest water catchments on earth, the Basin covers 14% of Australia’s land mass and has significant environmental, cultural and economic value.

More than 2.2 million people live in the Basin,

including people from more than 40 different

First Nations. Water is central to the cultural, social

and spiritual identity of First Nations people, and

they are activity involved in the planning and

management of water in the Basin.

The network of rivers, floodplains and groundwater

reserves supports a diverse range of plants and

animals, many of them protected under Australian

legislation and international agreements. The Basin

has over 100 sites registered as nationally important,

some of which are also internationally important and

recognised under the Ramsar Convention. The Living

Murray program identifies and protects 6 ‘icon sites’

along the River Murray selected for their ecological

value and cultural significance.

The Basin has a thriving tourist industry, pre-COVID

worth over $8 billion per year. River-based tourism,

including fishing, boating and eco-tourism, has

flow-on effects such as job creation and support for

food and beverage businesses.

The Basin is one of Australia’s most productive

agricultural regions, containing over 40% of

Australia’s farms. Often termed ‘Australia’s food

bowl’, the Basin’s food and fibre industries are

worth $24 billion annually. Produce includes fruit

and vegetables, wool, cotton, sheep, cattle, dairy

products, rice and wine. The Basin supports around

9,200 agricultural businesses.

The Basin spans one million square kilometres

and includes diverse landscapes. This means it has

one of the most variable climates in the world,

characterised by severe droughts, summer floods

and extreme temperatures. Climatic conditions range

from sub-tropical in the far north to hot and dry in

the west, temperate in the south-east and cool in the

high alpine areas.

Over the years, the amount of water used in the

Basin has increased substantially. Droughts and the

impacts of climate change affected the quantity and

quality of the water, which has had flow-on effects

for both the humans and animals that rely on the

Basin’s water. The 2012 Basin Plan was a result of

the realisation that water in Basin needed to be

managed to protect it into the future.

About the Murray-Darling Basin | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 9

10 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | About the Murray-Darling Basin

The Basin Plan

The Basin Plan is a significant reform, both in

scope and intention. Building on the National Water

Initiative and the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement,

it was created to guide the management and sharing

of water in the Basin in a sustainable way. The

Basin Plan was legislated in the Water Act 2007

and agreed to in 2012 (see Figure 2). It is a shared

responsibility. The success of the Basin Plan relies

on cooperation from the 6 Basin governments -

the Australian Government and the governments

of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South

Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

The Basin Plan sets out the amount of water that

can be taken from the Basin each year, while leaving

enough for the rivers, lakes and wetlands and the

plants and animals that depend on them. The Basin

Plan aims to restore the health of the Basin while

continuing to support agriculture and the other

industries for the ongoing benefit of the Australian

community. The context in which this will happen

has changed since implementation of the Plan started

in 2012. Climate change, changes in agricultural

production, environmental obligations and

socio-economic changes have all had an impact in

the Basin Plan’s implementation.

The Basin Plan is now more than halfway through

its implementation. The implementation of the Basin

Plan spans 2012 to 2026, with evaluations in 2017,

2020 and 2025. One the MDBA’s key roles is to drive

its implementation.

Operating context for 2020-21

During 2020-21, there was steady progress on

implementing the Basin Plan, including achieving

the major milestone of The Basin Plan 2020

Evaluation. Also, for the first time, the Basin annual

environmental watering priorities were developed

with input from First Nations. These achievements

were despite some challenging conditions.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect travel

and gatherings, slowing consultation processes but

also resulting in some innovative solutions including

virtual gatherings.

Weather patterns continued to be unstable.

In 2020 the hot weather continued, with the

Bureau of Meteorology confirming that 2020 was

Australia’s fourth warmest year on record. Most

of the Murray-Darling Basin recorded hotter than

average temperatures.

Figure 2: History of water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin

Figure 3: Storage capacity across the Basin as at 23 June 2021

M u rr u m b id g e e R i v e r

Murray River

Lach l a n Ri v e r

Go u l bu r n R i v e r

Darli n g Ri v e r

Gw y dir R i v e r

Namoi River

C ondam in e R i v e r

Macquar i e River

M aci n ty r e R i v e r

Loddo n River

M i t t a M i t t a River

M u r r a y Ri v e r

Northern Basin

Lachla n C a t chm en t

S o u th e rn Ba si n

100% 51-99% 26-50% 11-25% 0-10% Not included in calculations* Size of symbol indicates dam capacity (relative to other dams)

This figure was last updated 23 June 2021

Storage level key:

Murray-Darling Basin water in government storages 23 June 2021

5 52 2% %

1 1, ,5 56 62 2 of 3,005 GL H Hu um me e D Da am m

6 65 5% %

2 2, ,5 51 11 1 of 3,856 GL D Da ar rt tm mo ou ut th h D Da am m

9 99 9% % L La ak ke e W Wi il ll li ia am m Hov ve el ll l 1 14 4 of 13.7 GL

5 59 9% %

1 14 4 of 23.5 GL L La ak ke e B Bu uff ff a al lo o

7 73 3% %

2 29 9 of 40 GL L La ak ke e N Ni il ll la ah hc co oo ot ti ie e

5 57 7% %

1 1, ,9 91 15 5 of 3,334 GL E Ei il ld do on n D Da am m

5 54 4% %

2 23 32 2 of 432 GL W Wa ar ra an ng ga a B Ba as si in n

3 35 5% %

1 10 08 8 of 305 GL L La ak ke e E Ep pp pa al lo oc ck k

3 38 8% %

5 56 6 of 147 GL C Ca ai ir rn n C Cu ur rr ra an n R Re es se er rv vo oi ir r

4 40 0% %

2 29 9 of 72 GL T Tu ul ll la ar ro oo op p R Re es se er rv vo oi ir r

9 94 4% % 1 1, ,5 52 29 9 of 1,631 GLBBlloowweerriinngg RReesseerrvvooiirr

8 84 4% % 8 86 63 3 of 1,028 GLBBuurrrriinnjjuucckk DDaamm

7 72 2% % 8 87 77 7 of 1,217 GLWWyyaannggaallaa DDaamm

3 33 3% %

1 12 2 of 35.8 GL C Ca ar rc co oa ar r D Da am m

5 56 6% %

1 17 74 4 of 312 GL P Pi in nd da ar ri i D Da am m

5 54 4% %

1 13 38 8 of 254 GL G Gl le en nl ly yo on n D Da am m

1 10 01 1% % 7 70 0 of 69.1 GL C Co oo ol lm mu un nd da a D Da am m

4 46 6% % 6 63 34 4 of 1,364 GLCCooppeettoonn DDaamm

7 75 5% %

3 32 21 1 of 426 GL K Ke ee ep pi it t D Da am m

7 74 4% %

7 75 5 of 101 GL C Ch ha aff ff e ey y D Da am m

3 31 1% %

1 12 23 3 of 397 GL S Sp pl li it t R Ro oc ck k D Da am m

6 62 2% % 7 73 33 3 of 1,190 GLBBuurrrreennddoonngg DDaamm

3 34 4% %

1 12 26 6 of 368 GL W Wi in nd da am me er re e D Da am m

8 89 9% % 7 73 3 of 81.7 GL B Be ea ar rd dm mo or re e D Da am m

6 68 8% %

7 7 of 10.1 GL J Ja ac ck k T Ta ay yl lo or r W We ei ir r

1 19 9% % 4 4 of 21.2 GL C Co oo ob by y C Cr re ee ek k R Re es se er rv vo oi ir r

2 29 9% % 3 31 1 of 106 GL L Le es sl li ie e D Da am m 8 83 3% % 8 8 of 9.8 GL C Ch hi in nc ch hi il ll la a W We ei ir r

5 54 4% %

3 36 69 9 of 677 GL L La ak ke e V Vi ic ct to or ri ia a

9 95 5% %

2 26 66 6 of 280 GL L La ak ke e A Al lb be er rt t* *

9 96 6% %

1 1, ,5 58 83 3 of 1,645 GL L La ak ke e A Al le ex xa an nd dr ri in na a* *

6 63 3% % 1 1, ,0 08 87 7 of 1,731 GL M Me en ni in nd de ee e L La ak ke es s

7 71 1% %

8 88 89 9 of 1253 GL L La ac ch hl la an n 5 53 3% % 2 2, ,5 51 17 7 of 4,710 GL N No or rt th he er rn n B Ba as si in n 6 63 3% % 1 10 0, ,3 31 16 6 of 16,296 GL S So ou ut th he er rn n B Ba as si in n 6 62 2% % 1 13 3, ,7 72 22 2 of 22,258 GL W Wh ho ol le e o of f B Ba as si in n

About the Murray-Darling Basin | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 11

12 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | About the Murray-Darling Basin

In the latter part of 2020, a La Niña cycle brought

above-average rainfall for much of the southern

Basin, although northern areas received less rain.

The above-average rainfall continued into the first

part of 2021 and extended into the northern Basin,

causing flooding in some areas. Record March

rainfall in Queensland and northern New South

Wales resulted in good flows in the Barwon-Darling

rivers, and water storage levels in the Menindee

Lakes reached their highest in 4 years. In mid-May

the MDBA announced that on behalf of the Basin

state governments small amounts of water would

be released from Menindee Lakes. It’s the first time

since 2016 that this has been possible.

As at 23 June 2021 storage levels were at 62%, up

from 38% at the end of 2019-20. The southern Basin

was at 63%; the northern Basin at 53%.

Operationally, the MDBA continued to establish a

stronger regional presence, with one-third of the

workforce based in regional areas across the Basin.

To support the implementation of the Basin Plan, the

Australian Government launched the Murray-Darling

Communities Investment Package in September 2020

aimed at boosting jobs and economic activity in

Basin communities.

The government also announced the creation of a

new statutory compliance role separate from the

MDBA, and in December 2020 the Hon Troy Grant

was appointed to the position of Interim Inspector-General of Water Compliance (IGWC). This will lead

to some changes in the next reporting period as this

position is merged with the MDBA’s compliance role.

During 2020-21 there were several reviews into

water management which have an impact on the

MDBA. The report of the Australian Competition and

Consumer Commission’s inquiry into tradeable water

rights in the Murray-Darling Basin was released on

26 March 2021. The report recommended reforms to

improve Basin water markets in keeping with their

size and complexity.

On 28 May 2021 the Productivity Commission

handed its report National Water Reform 2020 to

the Australian Government. The report meets the

Commission’s obligations under the Water Act to

undertake 3-yearly inquiries into Australia’s water

resources.

The government is considering its response to these

2 reports.

While the MDBA continued to be scrutinised during

2020-21, the publication of The Basin Plan 2020

Evaluation report made a major contribution to

setting out the facts. The need for 6 governments

and a range of stakeholders to have confidence

in the Basin Plan and be able to work together

continues to be among the most critical elements in

the operating environment.

Basin states are actively implementing the [Basin] Plan. [The MDBA’s] job is to monitor, report and advise on Basin health.

Over the first 8 years the Basin Plan has been tested - but we know it’s working.

- Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d), Chair, Murray-Darling Basin Authority in a speech at the Murray-Darling Association Conference 2021 on 19 May 2021

About the Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Figure 4: Purpose and work of the MDBA

RUN THE RIVER IMPLEMENT THE BASIN PLAN

IMPROVE TRANSPARENCY AND CONFIDENCE IN THE BASIN PLAN, THE RIVER MURRAY OPERATIONS AND THE MDBA

TO APPLY THE BEST AVAILABLE SCIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE TO THE MANAGEMENT OF THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN

MDBA CAPABILITIES

DRIVE THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BASIN PLAN

STRENGTHEN THE CULTURE OF COMPLIANCE IN THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN

OPERATE THE RIVER MURRAY SYSTEM EFFICIENTLY FOR PARTNER GOVERNMENTS

SUPPORTING CAPABILITIES

CROSS PORTFOLIO CAPABILITIES

ENABLING SERVICES

ABORIGINAL PARTNERSHIPS BASIN PLAN REGULATION HYDROLOGICAL ANALYSIS

COMMUNICATIONS AND ENGAGEMENT EDUCATION ADAPTIVE WATER PLANNING AND POLICY

GIS REMOTE SENSING PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE DATA

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS REGIONAL OPERATIONS

LEGAL GOVERNANCE ICT OFFICE SERVICES

WATER DELIVERY WATER MANAGEMENT ASSETS MANAGEMENT APPLIED SCIENCE

HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT FINANCE

IMPROVE TRANSPARENCY AND CONFIDENCE IN THE BASIN PLAN, THE RIVER MURRAY OPERATIONS AND THE MDBA

IMPLEMENT THE BASIN PLAN RUN THE RIVER

DRIVE THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BASIN PLAN

STRENGTHEN THE CULTURE OF COMPLIANCE IN THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN

OPERATE THE RIVER MURRAY SYSTEM EFFICIENTLY FOR PARTNER GOVERNMENTS

MDBA CAPABILITIES

TO APPLY THE BEST AVAILABLE SCIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE TO THE MANAGEMENT OF THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN

SUPPORTING CAPABILITIES

CROSS PORTFOLIO CAPABILITIES

ENABLING SERVICES

COMMUNICATIONS AND ENGAGEMENT • EDUCATION • ADAPTIVE WATER PLANNING AND POLICY

BASIN PLAN REGULATION • ABORIGINAL PARTNERSHIPS • HYDROLOGICAL ANALYSIS

WATER DELIVERY • WATER MANAGEMENT • ASSETS MANAGEMENT • APPLIED SCIENCE

GIS REMOTE SENSING • PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE • DATA

REGIONAL OPERATIONS • GOVERNMENT RELATIONS

LEGAL • GOVERNANCE • ICT • OFFICE SERVICES • HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT • FINANCE

Purpose: To achieve a healthy working Basin through the integrated management

of water resources for the long-term benefit of the Australian community.

About the Murray-Darling Basin Authority | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 13

14 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | About the Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Authority

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA)

establishes and monitors the sustainable and

integrated management of the water resources of the

Murray-Darling Basin. This is done in collaboration

with stakeholders in a way that best meets the needs

of the Basin and its communities.

The MDBA operates under the authority of the

Commonwealth Water Act 2007 (the Water Act).

It delivers its functions under the Murray-Darling

Basin Agreement (Schedule 1 of the Water Act) in

conjunction with and on behalf of the contracting

governments: the Australian Government and

governments of New South Wales, Victoria,

Queensland, South Australia and the Australian

Capital Territory.

Most of the MDBA’s operations are governed by the

Water Act and the Basin Plan 2012, a legislative

instrument made under Part 2 of the Water Act.

The MDBA also performs functions under the

Intergovernmental Agreement on Implementing

Water Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin (the IGA).

Built on the 2008 Intergovernmental Agreement, the

IGA came into effect in 2013 and has been amended

5 times. The most recent amendment in August 2019

was to agree to measures to improve environmental

outcomes in the northern Basin.

Portfolio and ministers

The MDBA is in the Agriculture, Water and

Environment portfolio, reporting to the then

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia,

the Hon Keith Pitt MP. On 2 July 2021 Mr Pitt

became the Minster for Resources and Water.

The MDBA works in collaboration with the policy

owner, the Department of Agriculture, Water and

the Environment (DAWE) and compliance owner the

IGWC to implement the Basin Plan and the IGA.

Role

The MDBA’s key roles are to:

• drive the successful implementation of the

Basin Plan

• operate the River Murray on behalf of partner

governments.

Figure 5 shows roles and responsibilities for the

broader Murray-Darling Basin reform. As noted

above, the MDBA is no longer responsible for

enforcing compliance with the Basin Plan. This

responsibility has been transferred to the IGWC.

Water resource plans

Water resource plans set

local rules for water and outline how each region aims to achieve community, environmental, economic and cultural outcomes.

MDBA

assesses and recommends

for accreditation

Basin states

develop and implement

Compliance*

An effective and fair

compliance system will underpin the integrity of environmental water, water resource plans, water markets and water entitlements.

MDBA

monitors and enforces

Basin-scale compliance

Basin states

implement and enforce

compliance locally

Water markets and trade

Water in the Murray-Darling

Basin can be bought or sold permanently or temporarily.

MDBA

provides information and

enforces compliance

Basin states

implement the rules,

including allocating water

Australian Competition and

Consumer Commission

provides advice on rules

and complaints

Recovering water

Under the Basin Plan, water

is recovered and retained in the system to keep rivers, lakes and wetlands healthy.

Basin states

implement some

efficiency programs

Department of Agriculture,

Water and the Environment

undertakes strategic

purchases and efficiency programs

Water for the environment

Water for the environment

is used to improve the health of our rivers, wetlands and floodplains.

MDBA

plans, coordinates and

prioritises at a Basin scale

Basin states

plan and implement at a

local level

Commonwealth

Environmental Water Holder

plans and implements

across the Basin

Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring, evaluating

and reporting are critical to ensuring the way water is managed works and is on track.

MDBA

evaluates and monitors

the Basin Plan

Basin states

report and monitor at

a local level

Department of Agriculture,

Water and the Environment

monitors water recovery

program

Commonwealth

Environmental Water Holder

monitors and reports results

of water for the environment

Sustainable diversion limit

adjustment mechanism

The sustainable diversion

limit adjustment mechanism involves a suite of projects that are being developed to ensure water delivery systems are more effective and water losses are reduced.

MDBA

coordinates, assesses and

monitors projects

Basin states

propose, design and

implement projects

Department of Agriculture,

Water and the Environment

funds and implements

projects

River Murray operations

Infrastructure such as dams

and levees are developed, maintained and operated to store water and allow flows to occur.

MDBA

operates and manages

the River Murray

Basin states

undertake day-to-day

management of dams, locks, weirs and barrages

Figure 5: Roles and responsibilities for the broader Murray-Darling Basin reform

*See page 12 for information on the transfer of compliance to the IGWC.

About the Murray-Darling Basin Authority | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 15

16 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | About the Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Collaborations

All Basin governments, communities and change makers must work together to improve the health and productivity of the Murray-Darling Basin.

(The Basin Plan 2020 Evaluation, p xvii)

To carry out its work the MDBA collaborates with

governments, communities, First Nations, industry

and research organisations (Figure 6). The aim is to

build a shared purpose and commitment to a healthy

and productive Basin.

Examples of collaborations and interdependencies

include:

• Basin governments - the MDBA works with the

Australian Government and the governments of

New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South

Australia and the Australian Capital Territory

to coordinate work programs and oversee the

implementation of the Basin Plan

• First Nations - the MDBA engages with

First Nations to ensure their perspectives are

considered in the implementation, monitoring

and evaluation of the Basin Plan. There are over

40 Aboriginal Nations in the Basin. The MDBA

provides support to the Northern Basin Aboriginal

Nations and the Murray Lower Darling Rivers

Indigenous Nations. These are the peak Traditional

Owner-based organisations in the Basin with a

focus on natural resource management

• Basin communities - the MDBA works with Basin

communities in managing the Basin in many

ways, including advisory groups and Regional

Engagement Officers

• Australian Government agencies - the MDBA

works with other agencies including the

Commonwealth Environmental Water Office

(CEWO), the Australian Competition and

Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Bureau of

Meteorology (BoM), which also have roles under

the Water Act

• science and research communities - the MDBA

has research collaborations with universities

and research organisations. A key collaborator

is the CSIRO

• industry and special interest groups - the MDBA

works with agriculture, environmental, tourist

and other industry groups that are stakeholders

in the Basin.

Figure 6: MDBA collaborations

MDBA MDBA

ORGA NI SA

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INDUSTRY

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R N M E

N T

GROUPS

RE SE AR

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A G R ICU LTU RE, FORESTRY, TOURISM, ECO TOURISM

CEW O , STA TE G O V E R N M E N T S , G E O S C I E N C E , B O M , D A WE C S IR O

T O W N S

H I P E C

O N O M

IE S , C O

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ITY GR

OU PS ,

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UNIVE RSIT IES,

RE SEA RC

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TRAD ITIONAL OWNERS AND OTHERS

Location

A strong regional presence and engagement with

local communities is essential to successfully

implementing the Basin Plan. In March 2019, the

then Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources,

the Hon David Littleproud, announced that the

MDBA would be increasing its regional presence to

a total of 103 positions by mid-2021. The MDBA

has opened regional offices and is liaising with a

network of Regional Engagement Officers (REOs) and

Basin Community Committee members (see Basin

Community Committee).

The MDBA operates from 8 offices in various parts

of the Murray-Darling Basin:

• Adelaide - South Australia

• Albury-Wodonga - New South Wales and Victoria

• Canberra - Australian Capital Territory

• Goondiwindi - Queensland

• Griffith - New South Wales

• Mildura - Victoria

• Murray Bridge - South Australia

• Toowoomba - Queensland.

As of 30 June 2021, there were 96 MDBA staff

located in regional offices, with the government’s

target of 103 positions in the Basin being met in

2021. As well as allowing the MDBA to engage more

effectively with stakeholders, the regional presence

has flow-on effects such as creating jobs and

boosting economic diversification. There are more

details of the numbers of MDBA staff in each state or

territory in Employee arrangements (see p 101).

In 2020-21 the Australian Government provided

funding for an extra part-time Regional Engagement

Officer at Goolwa in South Australia.

Figure 7: Map showing MDBA offices and locations of BCC members and Regional Engagement Officers

About the Murray-Darling Basin Authority | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 17

18 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | About the Murray-Darling Basin Authority

MDBA people and values

As at 30 June 2021 the MDBA had 266 ongoing

staff and 34 non-ongoing staff.

The MDBA’s work requires specialists working in

areas including engineering, hydrology, environment

science, social science, communications, project

management, law and policy. The regionalisation

of staff has better positioned the MDBA to meet

business needs into the future. It also helps to

strengthen engagement with stakeholders and

improve transparency about decision-making.

The MDBA is committed to investing in its people’s

capabilities. Through the People Strategy

2021-2026, the MDBA’s vision is to build a capable,

engaged and connected workforce with a diverse,

inclusive and agile culture. Aligned to the strategic

priorities, the MDBA’s People Strategy demonstrates

the commitment to support and develop MDBA

people so that the MDBA can become a more

capable, trusted and flexible organisation that can

adjust to changes in the external environment.

The MDBA will achieve its people vision through the

delivery of program and projects under the following

5 strategic pillars:

• strengthen capability

• build a diverse, inclusive and agile culture

• support health and wellbeing

• deliver the MDBA’s workforce strategy

• enable effective business delivery.

Across 2020-21 the MDBA has embarked on a

workforce planning process that has identified the

people capabilities needed to achieve the MDBA’s

strategic objectives. These capabilities have been

organised into 20 capability groups in which

workforce capability plans have been developed.

The capability planning process enables the MDBA to:

• define MDBA’s people capabilities and how to

best use them

• define the set of knowledge, skills and abilities

that sit beneath each core capability

• shape a pathway that supports maintaining and

building capability

• take a stocktake of the capability that currently

exists and understand gaps between the current

state and desired future state

• understand trends and innovations that influence

how capability might change over the next 3 years.

Through the People Strategy the MDBA will

continue to promote a dynamic, flexible and capable

workforce with a single organisational culture.

Priority workforce initiatives to support building

and maintaining these capabilities will be considered

across 2021-22.

Staff are guided by both the Australian Public

Service values and the MDBA’s CREATE values to

ensure the MDBA continues to meet the expectations

of stakeholders and deliver on the commitment to

lead the planning and management of the

Murray-Darling Basin.

Figure 8: MDBA staff values

Committed, Connected and Collaborative

Engaging and Encouraging

Respectful and Rewarding

Agile and Adaptable

Trusted

Experts

The MDBA uses the CREATE values to capture how staff approach their work:

About the Murray-Darling Basin Authority | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 19

02

Part 2

Performance

Intr oductory statement 22

Reporting approach 23

Performance snapshot 24

Goal 1 26

Goal 2 38

Goal 3 46

Goal 4 60

Goal 5 66

Looking ahead to 2021-22 73

22 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Part 2—Performance

Part 2—Performance

Introductory statement

I, as the accountable authority of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, present the 2020-21 annual

performance statement, as required under the Commonwealth Public Governance, Performance and

Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) (paragraph 39(1)(a)).

In my opinion, this annual performance statement is based on properly maintained records, accurately reflects

the performance of the entity, and complies with the PGPA Act (subsection 39(2)).

Andrew Reynolds, Acting Chief Executive

7 October 2021

Reporting approach

The PGPA Act sets out how corporate Commonwealth entities, such as the Murray-Darling Basin Authority,

must report.

Figure 9 shows the links between the annual report and other aspects of the performance framework.

The MDBA manages its performance against a single outcome. The key deliverables are measured against the

strategic goals listed in the corporate plan.

Source: MDBA Corporate Plan 2020-21

Entity-based reporting document that details how resources allocated to the MDBA were used and the results achieved

Annual Report

Annual performance statement

Portfolio-based proposed allocation of resources to government outcomes and programs

Entity-based planning document that sets out the purpose of the entity and performance criteria for activities to achieve the purpose

Annual Appropriation Acts

Corporate Plan

Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS)

Outcome 1:

Equitable and sustainable use of the Murray-Darling Basin by governments and the community including through development and implementation of a Basin Plan, operation of the River Murray system, shared natural resource management programs, research information and advice

Purpose of the MDBA:

To achieve a healthy working Basin through the integrated

management of water resources for the long-term benefit

of the Australian community

Program 1.1:

Equitable and sustainable use of the Murray-Darling Basin

Performance criteria:

5 strategic goals and 8 key performance indicators

The MDBA has one outcome and one program

Source: Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) 2020-21

Figure 9: Performance framework

Reporting approach | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 23

24 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Performance snapshot

Performance snapshot

This section includes a summary of overall performance. More detailed analysis of the results follows

under each goal.

Table 1: Performance against KPIs

Strategic goal KPI Result Comment

Goal 1: Drive

the successful

implementation

of the Basin Plan

KPi 1: Collaborate with

Basin governments to

achieve accreditation of

water resource plans, and

transition to implement

sustainable diversion limit

accounting, while managing

instances of

non-compliance

Partially met While the MDBA has a target for this measure,

the process involves many parties. At 30 June

the assessment of WRPs for accreditation was

behind schedule, which has an impact on the

water accounting and compliance activities.

KPi 2: Collaborate with

Basin governments to

achieve delivery of toolkit

measures

Substantially

met

Both measures in KPI 2 have been substantially

met. Collaboration with Basin governments is

critical to progressing the implementation of the

toolkit measures. The significant toolkit measure

milestones achieved during the 2020-21

financial year - particularly with respect to

the protection of environmental water and

environmental works infrastructure measures

- demonstrate the collective efforts of the

Australian, Queensland and NSW governments.

This is despite climatic challenges of drought

and floods and the impact of the COVID-19

pandemic.

Goal 2: Strengthen

the culture of

compliance in the

Murray-Darling

Basin

KPi 3: The MDBA monitors

and enforces compliance

with the Basin Plan and

publishes results of

compliance and regulatory

activities

Partially met Six measures of success were assessed to

inform performance against the KPI. Three of

these measures were met and 3 were partially

met, with clear progress against the identified

activities.

Strategic goal KPI Result Comment

Goal 3: Efficiently

and effectively

operate the River

Murray System

for partner

governments

KPi 4: Operate the

River Murray System in

accordance with the MDB

Agreement

Met The 6 performance measures were all met. The

majority of asset activities were delivered and

progressed, as endorsed by the River Murray

Operations Committee. The most recent report of

the Independent River Operations Review Group

concluded that all the general objectives for

river operations were achieved overall in

2019-20 and the MDBA responded

appropriately to challenging conditions.

KPi 5: Maintain and

improve the health of the

River Murray system (and

the Basin where relevant)

in accordance with Murray-

Darling Basin Agreement

and associated agreements

Substantially

met

Four of the 5 performance measures were met.

The target for maintaining or improvement the

environmental health of 7 key sites was not met,

because of the impact of a third consecutive

year of hot and dry conditions across the

southern Murray-Darling Basin. These climate

conditions placed stress on the key sites and

resulted in less water being available for the

environment.

Goal 4: Improve

transparency and

confidence in the

Basin Plan

KPi 6: Stakeholder

awareness and

understanding of the

Basin Plan, River Murray

operations and MDBA’s role*

Met The MDBA measures achievement of this KPI

through a stakeholder survey. A greater regional

presence and a new communication strategy

has improved stakeholder awareness and

understanding.

The MDBA is focused on national leadership and

influence, regional place-based engagement, and

communicating Basin facts and information. In

this first year of implementing the new strategy,

the MDBA has improved coordination with

partner agencies, published a number of public

webinars and used its greater regional presence

to engage proactively across the Basin.

Goal 5: Apply the

best available

science and

knowledge to the

management of the

Murray-Darling

Basin

KPi 7: Leverage the MDBA’s

deep understanding of

environmental, social,

cultural and economic

considerations to make

robust and defensible

decisions

Met Both measures in KPI 7 have met their

targets. Reports, reviews, partnerships and

collaborations provide plenty of evidence that

decision-making is well supported by data and

knowledge.

KPi 8: Collaborate and

cooperate with Basin

governments and other

external stakeholders to

share knowledge, collect

data and manage it

appropriately

Substantially

met

Collaboration and cooperation is the cornerstone

of successfully implementing the Basin Plan.

Evidence shows the MDBA collaborates widely

and uses the data and knowledge generated in

decision-making. During the year, an external

provider assessing the management of data

recommended some improvements. This,

combined with changes of priorities associated

with the COVID outbreak, means that one of the

2 measures for KPI 8 was substantially, rather

than completely, met.

*Note: changes have been made to Goal 4 from MDBA Corporate Plan 2019-20: KPI 6 and KPI 7 have been

merged into one KPI to consolidate and improve reporting under the goal.

Source: Murray-Darling Basin Authority Corporate Plan 2020-21

Performance snapshot | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 25

26 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 1

Goal 1 Drive the successful implementation of the Basin Plan

Role of the MDBA

Lead the implementation of the Basin

Plan in collaboration with Basin state and

territory governments and other Australian

Government agencies.

Desired outcomes

• Accreditation of water resource plans (WRPs) that

are consistent with the Basin Plan

• Ensuring WRPs can continue to evolve and be

adapted over time as new information becomes

available, including reaccreditation in the future

as plans are adjusted and improved

• Improved water accounting and reporting on

water resources in the Murray-Darling Basin

• Water use across the Basin is compliant with

sustainable diversion limits (SDLs)

• Environmental benefits are maximised through

the use of the northern Basin toolkit measures

• SDL Adjustment Mechanism projects are

substantially progressed

• Efficient delivery of environmental water

with minimum impact on the people, land

and infrastructure

2020-21 key activities

• Assess WRPs for accreditation

• Set up processes to enable amendments to

accredited WRPs

• Complete the SDL accounts and any actions

arising

• Progress SDL accounting improvements

• Monitor the implementation of toolkit measures

in the northern Basin

• Support active management of northern

Basin flows

• Progress MDBA responsibilities in the Basin Plan

commitments package

• Complete the review of the Environmental Watering

Plan (Chapter 8 of the Basin Plan) and publish the

final review report by 30 December 2020

• Develop an implementation plan to action the

environmental watering priorities, reviewing

recommendations during the first quarter of 2021

Source: Murray-Darling Basin Authority Corporate Plan 2020-21

Performance and analysis

Goal 1 has 2 key performance indicators (KPIs):

KPi 1: Collaborate with Basin governments to achieve accreditation of water resource plans, and transition

to implement sustainable diversion limit accounting, while managing instances of non-compliance

KPi 2: Collaborate with Basin governments to achieve delivery of toolkit measures

Performance on KPI 1

The aim of the Basin Plan is to achieve a sustainable, healthy system for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Having accredited WRPs, transitioning to sustainable diversion limits and accounting, and managing non-compliance are key to meeting this aim. Delays in the development, assessment and accreditation of WRPs,

the SDL Adjustment Mechanism projects and the Northern Basin toolkit projects mean that the full benefits

of the Basin Plan cannot yet be realised. Meeting the targets will require renewed commitment from Basin

governments and all stakeholders.

Table 2: Performance against targets for Goal 1, KPI 1

KPI Measure Target Result

KPi 1: Collaborate with Basin

governments to achieve accreditation of

water resource plans, and transition to

implement sustainable diversion limit

accounting, while managing instances of

non-compliance

1.1 Percentage of water resource plans

which have been assessed by the MDBA

for accreditation

100% 39%t

1.2 SDL reporting and compliance

framework is applied

SDL compliance

report published

Partially

met+

tAt 30 June 2021, 20 NSW plans remain to be assessed for accreditation. However, during 2020-21 the MDBA has provided preliminary advice to NSW on all 20. At 30 June NSW had withdrawn 12 for review and resubmission.

+2019-20 compliance report delayed due to analysis of ‘Reasonable Excuse’ claims.

Goal 1 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 27

28 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 1

Water resource plans assessed for accreditation

Water resource plans are a key part of implementing

the Basin Plan, as they set out the rules on water

management at a local or catchment level. The

development, assessment and accreditation of

WRPs is a thorough process that involves close

collaboration at local, state and national level.

Figure 10 shows the key elements taken into account

for each WRP.

WRPs are developed by Basin state governments.

The MDBA’s role is to provide assistance in

developing WRPs and to assess them using a

documented framework consistent with the

requirements of chapter 10 of the Basin Plan.

The MDBA then makes a recommendation to the

Australian Government minister responsible for water

as to whether the WRP is suitable for accreditation.

The Basin Plan requires 33 WRPs to be developed:

• 14 for surface water

• 14 for groundwater

• 5 covering both surface water and groundwater.

As at 30 June 2021, the WRPs are accredited and in

operation for Queensland, South Australia, Victoria

and the Australian Capital Territory. These account

for 13 of the total number of WRPs; the remaining

20 are all in New South Wales.

New South Wales submitted all its WRPs by

30 June 2020 but needs to make some amendments

before the WRPs can be submitted to the

Commonwealth water minister for accreditation.

COVID-19 restrictions have caused delays in meetings

with community groups and engagement with First

Nations living in the 20 WRP areas in New South Wales.

The MDBA is working with the Northern Basin

Aboriginal Nations (NBAN) and the Murray Lower

Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN) in relation

to the ‘Indigenous values and uses’ part of each WRP.

Because these WRPs were not accredited by

1 July 2020, the MDBA and the New South Wales

government signed a new bilateral agreement. This

agreement safeguards key Basin Plan commitments.

Figure 10: Key elements of water resource plans

Compliance with the sustainable diversion limit and water trade rules

Protection of water for the environment

Water quality and salinity objectives Aboriginal values and uses

Measuring and monitoring Arrangements for extreme weather

events

Water resource plan

WRP amendment process ensures relevance

Climate change, changes to state legislation, new

information and other changes mean that water

management will continue to evolve. This will

necessitate amendments to accredited WRPs. Getting

the plans right takes time and it is important that all

stakeholders have confidence in them.

The MDBA has developed WRP amendment

guidelines to help Basin states draft amendments

to their WRPs. The MDBA will undertake a tailored

approach to assessment that is suited to the scale

and complexity of an amendment when determining

consistency with the Basin Plan. Regulations are also

in place to enable the streamlined accreditation of

minor or non-substantive amendments to WRPs.

The MDBA publishes quarterly reports documenting

WRP progress. Read these and other information

about WRPs on the MDBA website at https://www.

mdba.gov.au/basin-plan-roll-out/water-resource-plans

SDL accounting improvements assist compliance

Since 2012-13, the MDBA and the Basin states

have been developing processes to report on and

manage compliance with the new SDL accounting

system. These trials have been published in a series

of transition period water take reports that can be

found on the MDBA website at https://www.mdba.

gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/transitional-sdl-water-take-reports

The sustainable diversion limits commenced from

1 July 2019, but need an accredited WRP before

they can be applied. As only one WRP had been

accredited by the start of the 2019-20 water year,

the compliance assessment was split:

• an assessment under the Basin Plan for those

SDL resource units where the WRP had been

accredited

• an assessment under a bilateral agreement

between the Basin state and MDBA where a WRP

had not yet been accredited.

The MDBA has been working with Basin states to

understand compliance against these limits for the

2019-20 water year. Accounting for the water taken

across the whole Basin is a complex undertaking. It’s

important to get water take accounts right to ensure

that there is accurate information and to provide

confidence that water is being taken within the rules.

A small number of SDL resource units have needed

considerable effort to finalise in this first year. In

turn, this has led to a delay in publishing the SDL

compliance outcomes, which was expected to occur

early in the 2020-21 water year.

Water Take Report 2019-20 will also be published

in the 2021-22 water year. This will set out the

results of the Cap compliance assessment as well as

report on held environmental water and any trends

in water use.

The MDBA is committed to continuous improvement

in water measurement and accounting:

• The MDBA published the SDL Accounting

Framework Improvement Strategy 2020-2025

in May 2020 on the MDBA website. The strategy

outlines how the MDBA will continue to improve

the SDL accounting framework in conjunction

with the Basin states over the next 5 years.

It includes work to align water accounting

concepts with the Bureau of Meteorology and the

Australian Bureau of Statistics.

• The SDL Accounting Data Management Project

aims to improve the accounting and compliance

processes in a streamlined system. The system

is a key part of the SDL Accounting Framework

Improvement Strategy and includes data

acquisition, management, analysis and reporting.

Basin Plan 2020 Evaluation - Recommendation 2

There is still scope for Basin governments

to propose new and innovative approaches

to achieving the long-term sustainable

limits for water use in the Basin. As Basin

governments and communities engage on

completing the remaining elements of Basin

Plan implementation it will be vital to show

how these new approaches could contribute to

delivery of sustainable water use limits.

https://www.mdba.gov.au/basin-plan/

monitoring-evaluation/2020-basin-plan-evaluation/implementing-basin-plan

Goal 1 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 29

30 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 1

Performance on KPI 2

Table 3: Performance against targets for Goal 1, KPI 2

KPI Measure Target Result

KPi 2: Collaborate with Basin

governments to achieve delivery of

toolkit measures

2.1 Milestones and actions in Schedule

3 to Inter-Governmental Agreement

(IGA) are being progressed for each of

the 6 toolkit measures

As set out in

Schedule 3 of

IGA

Substantially

met

2.2 MDBA, NSW, Qld and Department

of Agriculture have processes in

place to demonstrate the successful

implementation of toolkit measures

Quarterly

progress

report

published by

MDBA

Met

Implementation of toolkit measures a collaborative process

The toolkit measures complement the SDLs to

improve water management practices and achieve a

sustainable northern river system.

Implementation of the toolkit measures depends on

collaboration between the Australian, Queensland

and New South Wales governments and stakeholders

in the northern Basin.

The 6 toolkit measures are:

1. targeted recovery of water - aims to improve

environmental watering into Narran Lakes, Lower

Balonne and Culgoa floodplains and the Barwon-

Darling River while managing any adverse

socioeconomic impact

2. protection of environmental flows - aims to

strengthen environmental flows across the

northern Basin, particularly in the unregulated

river systems of the Condamine-Balonne and

Barwon-Darling

3. event-based environmental water mechanisms -

aims to support the development of contractual

and other mechanisms to complement

environmental water management; aims to

benefit the Narran Lakes, some areas of the

Lower Balonne, the Border Rivers and Namoi

regions, and Barwon-Darling

4. improved coordination and management of

environmental water - aims to maximise

environmental outcomes of water for the

environment moving from upper catchments to

downstream rivers such as the Barwon-Darling

and Lower Balonne

5. Gwydir constraints - aims to remove constraints

in the Gwydir catchment that are preventing

flows from reaching the Gwydir wetland

6. environmental works and measures - aims to

implement works that promote fish movement

and habitat and broader ecological outcomes in

the northern Basin.

Full details of the toolkit measures are available

on the MDBA website - https://www.mdba.gov.au/

basin-plan/northern-basin-projects/northern-basin-toolkit-measures - (which includes links to relevant

Australian Government websites).

Several toolkit measure milestones were due in the

2020-21 financial year. Timeframes for completing

other milestones are in future financial years (that is

after June 2021). Timeframes and progress against

these toolkit measures are provided in Table 4.

During 2020-21, there was solid progress on

delivering the toolkit measures. Significant

milestones were achieved for both the policy and

management measures and the environmental works

infrastructure measures, showing commitment by

Basin governments. Overall, the implementation is

at various stages, with some projects delivered and

others on track providing confidence to communities,

while other projects are delayed.

NSW’s start to implementing a measure known as

‘active management’ was a key milestone achieved

during 2020-21. This enduring solution to protect

water for the environment along the Barwon-Darling

and through the lower Gwydir and lower Macquarie

unregulated river systems was a key aspect of NSW

water reform. It replaced the interim arrangements

NSW used over recent years during northern flow

events. Challenges remain around timing of formal

accreditation of the NSW water sharing arrangements

through WRPs.

Progress on environmental works and measures

infrastructure projects - such as fishways and

the Gwydir constraints project - has been slower

than expected. A key milestone was achieved in

March 2021 when the Australian Government

minister responsible for water announced approval

of 10 toolkit projects in NSW and Queensland.

This announcement followed a Commonwealth

assessment of value for money and ability to deliver

maximum environmental outcomes in the northern

Basin, including consideration of recommendations of

an independent expert scientific panel.

A number of factors have contributed to the slower

than expected progress for the environmental works

infrastructure measures:

• Delays in developing feasibility proposals, partly

due to COVID-19 restrictions, meant that the

agreed IGA timeframe for submitting business

cases in the second half of 2020 was not met.

The consequence of delays is that it will be

challenging to deliver some of the larger, more

complex prioritised projects by 30 June 2024.

• Basin governments recognised that there are

likely to be more projects proposed seeking

funding than can be funded. Hence, initial efforts

focused on developing a rigorous and transparent

framework to prioritise a package of toolkit

projects based on maximising environmental

outcomes.

• Multi-jurisdiction and agency collaboration and

cooperation is critical for toolkit implementation

but processes seeking agreement take time and

require consultation.

• There were delays with the execution of

funding agreements.

• Decision on which projects were selected to

proceed to the next phase took longer than

anticipated. This was necessary to ensure

Commonwealth due diligence process to ensure

value for money and ecological merit, including

seeking independent scientific advice.

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Table 4: Summary of toolkit measures, milestones and progress

Toolkit measure Milestones and timeframe Progress

1. Targeted

recovery

of water

• Monthly reports on

progress towards water

recovery targets

• Report giving examples

of how the water

recovered is helping to

achieve environmental

outcomes

• The Australian Government, in consultation with NSW, Queensland

and the MDBA, will recover water for the environment by

modernising off-farm water delivery infrastructure. On 3 March

2021, Minister Pitt announced the new Off-farm Efficiency

Program including $1.33 billion in state-led efficiency projects and

$0.15 billion in direct grants. There is an additional $60 million

available for on-farm projects. Further details are available at Off-farm Efficiency Program - Department of Agriculture at: https://

www.agriculture.gov.au/water/mdb/programs/basin-wide/off-farm-efficiency-program

• The Australian Government regularly publishes information on

progress of Commonwealth environmental water recovery at:

https://www.agriculture.gov.au/water/mdb/progress-recovery/

progress-of-water-recovery

• As at 31 March 2021, there was 30.2 GL of water recovery

remaining in the northern Basin.

• Progress to achieving full recovery in the northern Basin has

stalled. Recovery needs to be fast-tracked to ensure compliance

with sustainable diversion limits and conclude the Bridging the

Gap program. A plan and timeframe for achieving the remaining

northern Basin water recovery is needed and should be

transparently communicated to provide confidence and certainty

to communities.

Toolkit measure Milestones and timeframe Progress

2. Protection of

environmental

flows

• Mechanisms to

protect environmental

flows included in

WRPs submitted

for accreditation by

31 December 2019 and

in place and operating

by end 2020

• Accounting method

supported by protocols

and procedures for Qld-to-NSW cross-border

held environmental

water in place and

operating by end 2020

• Mechanisms to better manage and protect environmental water

and low flows have been included in all WRPs.

• In Qld, all WRPs are accredited and fully operational.

• Qld, in collaboration with NSW and the CEWO, has progressed

the development of an accounting method for cross-border held

environmental water. An interim arrangement was in place by the

end of 2020 (consistent with the agreed IGA timeframe), which

was trialled in early 2021. Qld plans to finalise the improved

cross-border water accounting arrangements, including formal

supporting procedures and protocols, by 30 June 2021.

• NSW has developed enduring arrangements for protection of water

for the environment to be implemented through water resource

plans. All 11 groundwater plans and 9 surface water plans have

been submitted to the MDBA for accreditation under the Basin

Plan. MDBA accreditation assessment is ongoing with a number

of draft WRPs being withdrawn for amendment before being

resubmitted.

• NSW commenced active management to protect water for the

environment on 1 December 2020 in the 3 unregulated water

sources (consistent with the agreed IGA timeframe). Three other

aspects of NSW reform came into effect from 1 July 2020 in

accordance with the amended Water Sharing Plan for the Barwon-

Darling unregulated water source:

— managing resumption of flows in the Barwon-Darling after an

extended dry period (first flush rule)

— daily extraction limits

— increases to some A Class access pumping thresholds near

Bourke to protect low flows.

• In January 2021, the new ‘resumption of flow’ rule was activated

for the first time since it was introduced by NSW in 2020. It

prohibited irrigation licence access until enough water was forecast

to flow through the system to provide system connectivity from

Bourke to Wilcannia. In total, 8,000 ML was protected using the

resumption of flows rule (see WaterNSW Resumption to Flows

event report at :https://www.waternsw.com.au/__data/assets/

pdf_file/0019/165034/Resumption-to-Flows-event-report-January-2021.pdf)

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Toolkit measure Milestones and timeframe Progress

3. Event-based

environmental

water

mechanisms

• A workplan for

developing a suitable

framework for event-based mechanisms

finalised by

31 December 2019

• The Event-based mechanisms in the Lower Balonne: implementation

overview report was published on the Department of Agriculture,

Water and the Environment website in January 2020. It is

available at: http://environment.gov.au/water/cewo/publications/

event-based-mechanisms-lower-balonne-implementation-overview

• An independent review has been completed and published on the

CEWO website of the pilot grant scheme that was implemented

in early 2020. The pilot involved paying a water allocation

holder that was legally entitled to pump water from the Narran

River to not pump. The review was supportive of the design and

implementation of the event-based mechanism. It is available at:

http://www.environment.gov.au/water/cewo/publications/narran-lakes-event-based-mechanism-pilot-project-review-final-report

• The CEWO continues to explore opportunities to use event-based

mechanisms to enhance environmental outcomes in the northern

Basin if suitable flow conditions arise. In early 2021, the CEWO

sought interest from water allocation holders to participate in

another grant to allow additional water to pass into Narran Lakes.

However, on this occasion, no water allocation holders chose to

accept the voluntary grant offer.

• Qld has committed to review accounting and management

arrangements within the seasonal assignment framework. This

will facilitate the most comprehensive take-up of event-based

mechanisms to allow for flow event transfers between entitlement

holders and the CEWO.

4. Improved

coordination

and

management of

environmental

water

• Draft terms of reference

agreed to by the parties

by end 2019

• All projects that are

assessed and approved

for Commonwealth

funding must have

entered into operation

by June 2024

• The CEWO and NSW coordinated joint environmental releases to

achieve whole-of-north connected flows in 2018 (the Northern

Connectivity Event, http://www.environment.gov.au/water/

cewo/northern-rivers), 2019 (the Northern Fish Flow, http://

www.environment.gov.au/water/cewo/catchment/northern-fish-flow-2019) and 2020/21, (the Northern Waterhole Top-Up, https://

www.environment.gov.au/water/cewo/catchment/northern-waterhole-top-up)

• A Northern Basin Environmental Watering Group (NBEWG)

comprising officials from the MDBA, CEWO, NSW and Qld has been

established and has met on several occasions. The NBEWG will

provide an enduring and formalised way to coordinate planning

and delivery of water for the environment across the northern

Basin. Initial terms of reference for NBEWG were agreed in

November 2019 and revised terms of reference were agreed by

Basin governments in May 2021. These are consistent with the

findings of the MDBA’s joint governance review.

• A new Environmental Water Committee comprising senior

officials from all Basin governments was established in 2021 to

provide support and advice on responsibilities with regards to

joint government business and any relevant Basin Plan matters

related to environmental water. It will work with NBEWG to ensure

environmental water is being better coordinated across catchment

and state boundaries, including addressing environmental water

policy issues in the northern Basin.

Toolkit measure Milestones and timeframe Progress

5. Gwydir

constraints

• Revised Gwydir

constraints project

business case finalised

by the second half of

2020

• Any project that is

assessed and approved

for Commonwealth

funding must have

entered into operation

by June 2024

• In July 2020 NSW submitted feasibility proposals to the

Commonwealth to address constraints in the Gwydir catchment.

• The Australian Government minister responsible for water

determined in March 2021 that Commonwealth funding be made

available to develop business cases for 3 Gwydir constraints

projects:

— Gwydir - Gingham Watercourse

— Gwydir - Lower Gwydir Watercourse

— Gwydir - Lower Mehi River.

• The business case submission timeframe for environmental

works projects of December 2020 agreed by Basin governments

was not met. Business cases are expected to be submitted to the

Commonwealth in November 2021 for Commonwealth assessment.

• Decisions on the implementation of these projects will be

determined by the Australian Government minister responsible for

water following submission of the business cases.

• Gwydir constraints projects are large, technically complex

projects requiring extensive community and stakeholder support.

Implementation by the agreed June 2024 implementation

timeframe will be challenging and there is significant risk that it

will not being met. Further delays will increase implementation risk.

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36 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 1

Toolkit measure Milestones and timeframe Progress

6. Environmental

works and

measures

• All projects for this

measure that are

assessed and approved

for Commonwealth

funding must have:

— submitted

business cases

to the Australian

Government

department in the

second half 2020

— entered into

operation by

June 2024

• An ecological prioritisation framework has been developed and

endorsed by the Basin Officials Committee to prioritise toolkit

projects to be implemented according to their ability to deliver

maximum environmental outcomes in the northern Basin.

• NSW and Qld submitted feasibility proposals in July 2020 for

Commonwealth assessment using the prioritisation framework.

• in March 2021 the Commonwealth Minister announced that 10

toolkit projects in NSW and Qld, including the 3 Gwydir constraints

projects, have been approved. Ninety million dollars has been

made available to NSW and Qld to support the accelerated

implementation of 4 of the projects and develop business cases

for the remaining 6 projects. Activities to develop projects are

expected to include community consultation.

• A summary of each of the 10 projects selected to proceed to the

next phase is provided on the MDBA website at https://www.mdba.

gov.au/basin-plan/northern-basin-projects/northern-basin-toolkit-measures

• There is further information on the DAWE website (https://www.

agriculture.gov.au/water/mdb/basin-plan/northern-basin-toolkit)

about the 4 projects fast-tracked for implementation. It is expected

on-ground delivery of these project will begin this year.

• The business case submission timeframe for environmental

works projects of December 2020 agreed by Basin governments

was not met. Business cases are expected to be submitted to the

Commonwealth in November 2021 for Commonwealth assessment.

• Decisions on implementation of these projects will be determined

by the Australian Government minister responsible for water

following submission of the business cases.

• While efforts to fast-track implementation of some projects

through an accelerated gateway model is welcome progress,

delivering the prioritised environmental works infrastructure

projects by the agreed June 2024 implementation timeframe will

be challenging. Good progress by June 2024 is still achievable,

including delivery of smaller scale and less complex projects. The

risk of not meeting implementation timeframes is greatest for

larger, technically complex projects and those requiring extensive

community and stakeholder engagement and support. Further

delays will increase implementation risk with the likelihood of

meeting implementation timeframes steadily decreasing over the

past 2 years. The accelerated delivery of some projects will assist

to reverse this trend but further action is likely to be required.

Processes to show progress on toolkit measure implementation

The MDBA and the Australian, NSW and Queensland

governments all have roles to play to implement

the toolkit measures. There are multiple processes

in place to show the successful implementation

of toolkit measures and many mechanisms are

used to provide publicly available information on

implementation progress.

The Northern Basin Project Committee (NBPC)

and Environmental Water Committee (EWC)

monitor progress, including the activities of each

agency. The NBPC meet approximately quarterly

and report on progress twice a year to the Basin

Officials Committee (BOC) and the Ministerial

Council. They are supported by the EWC, which

assists with monitoring progress and reporting on

implementation of the policy and management

toolkit measures.

Reviews and information relating to the

implementation of the toolkit measures are also

published on the website of the new Inspector-General of Water Compliance (IGWC) for the

Murray-Darling Basin at https://www.igwc.gov.au

The Hon Troy Grant was appointed in this role on

16 December 2020. The role is independent of

the MDBA.

Since 2018 the MDBA has published 6-monthly

report cards on the MDBA website, providing regular

and comprehensive assessment of progress. The

reports respond to feedback from Basin communities

for short, timely and accurate updates. The report

cards assess progress on the 6 key elements of the

Basin Plan implementation:

• water resource plans

• water recovery

• compliance

• northern Basin initiatives

• SDL adjustment mechanism

• environmental water delivery.

The MDBA released The Basin Plan 2020 Evaluation

in December 2020. This comprehensive evaluation

of Basin Plan implementation included a Plan

implementation evidence report that provides an

assessment of progress with implementing the

northern Basin toolkit. The Evaluation report is

available at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/2020-basin-plan-evaluation

In December 2020, the Murray-Darling Basin

Ministerial Council published a Commonwealth,

NSW and Queensland jointly agreed work plan for

toolkit implementation on the MDBA website. An

updated version was published in April 2021 to

reflect progress. In May 2021 the MDBA published

summaries of the 10 approved environmental works

infrastructure projects including information on each

project’s implementation status: https://www.mdba.

gov.au/basin-plan/northern-basin-projects/northern-basin-toolkit-measures

The MDBA will continue to publish regular updates

(minimum 6-monthly) of the work plan and status of

the 10 environmental works infrastructure projects.

The role and reporting by the NBPC, the 6-monthly

report cards, Basin Plan Evaluation, up-to-date

work plans and corporate plan annual reporting

demonstrate how the MDBA has processes to report

on the implementation of toolkit measures. In

total, the MDBA has published 4 separate progress

reports during 2020-21 financial year: the annual

report, Basin Plan Evaluation and two toolkit

implementation work plans.

While much of the reporting is 6-monthly, the many

intergovernmental committees that oversee the

process discuss projects quarterly, which meets the

target of quarterly reporting. It corresponds with

the expected rate of progress and is consistent with

timeframes of other established progress reporting

processes - for example, the MDBA report cards.

Goal 1 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 37

38 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 2

Goal 2 Strengthen the culture of compliance in the Murray-Darling Basin

Role of the MDBA

Implement a strategic approach to compliance

and enforcement of the Basin Plan and Basin

governments’ water resource plans.

The work towards this goal will transition to the

Inspector-General of Water Compliance in 2021-22,

with the Water Legislation Amendment (Inspector-General of Water Compliance and other measures)

Bill 2021 having passed the Parliament. Until the

Inspector-General was appointed on 5 August 2021,

the MDBA remained responsible for compliance

and enforcement under the Water Act 2007 and

is reporting on its delivery of compliance activities

for 2020-21.

Desired outcomes

• The MDBA’s compliance and enforcement

information is available and transparent.

• The MDBA is identifying and responds to

non-compliance.

• The MDBA is conducting assurance of, and

identifying improvements in, Basin state

compliance and enforcement systems.

• There is increased coverage, quality and

transparency of water measurement in the

Murray-Darling Basin.

• Basin Plan compliant water markets are

advanced.

• The MDBA has developed systems and

processes to perform its Basin Plan

regulatory responsibilities, including

ensuring WRP compliance.

2020-21 key activities

• Monitor and report on Basin government progress

implementing the 2018 Murray-Darling Basin

compliance compact commitments

• Conduct and publish compliance audits and

reviews to provide assurance about Basin

state compliance and enforcement systems

and activities

• Assist Basin governments to improve metering,

monitoring and reporting of water take

• Monitor and assist with the implementation of

the Basin Plan water trading rules

• Manage allegations and instances of non-compliance in accordance with the MDBA’s

Compliance and Enforcement Policy 2018-21

• Coordinate the water compliance community of

practice, a forum for water compliance officers

across Australia to share best practice and

operational insights

• Strengthen the MDBA’s internal regulatory culture

and capability

• Progress the northern Basin remote sensing

capability and water information portal.

Source: Murray-Darling Basin Authority Corporate Plan 2020-21

Performance and analysis

Goal 2 has one key performance indicator (KPI):

KPi 3: The MDBA monitors and enforces compliance with the Basin Plan and publishes results of compliance

and regulatory activities

Performance on KPI 3

Compliance with the Basin Plan is paramount to achieving a healthy, working Basin. The MDBA takes a

Basin-wide approach to compliance, with a focus on providing assurance that Basin state compliance

arrangements and activities are effective.

The Compliance and Enforcement Policy 2018-21 and the SDL Reporting and Compliance Framework set out

key elements of the MDBA’s compliance program. They are among a number of compliance and enforcement

documents that are available on the MDBA website.

Six measures of success were assessed to inform performance against the KPI. Three of these measures were

met and 3 were partially met, with clear progress against the identified activities.

Table 5: Performance against targets for Goal 2, KPI 3

KPI Measure 2020-21 Target Result

KPi 3: The MDBA monitors and enforces

compliance with the Basin Plan and

publishes results of compliance and

regulatory activities

3.1 Percentage of MDBA’s annual

compliance priorities achieved

100% Partially met

3.2 Percentage of MDBA’s compliance

audit and review reports published

100% Met

3.3 Information regarding the MDBA’s

regulatory activities is published

quarterly

Information

published

quarterly

Partially met

3.4 The MDBA’s engagement with states

to support the improvement of the

metering and monitoring of water take

Qualitatively

assessed

Met

3.5 The MDBA’s engagement with

regulated entities to implement the

water trading rules

Qualitatively

assessed

Met

3.6 The MDBA’s biennial maturity

assessment on the Modern Regulator

Improvement Tool

70% ‘maturing’

or above

Partially met

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40 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 2

Annual compliance priorities partially met

Measure 3.1 is ‘Percentage of MDBA’s annual

compliance priorities achieved’. The 2020-21 target

was ‘100%’.

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘partially met’.

The MDBA prepares an annual statement of

compliance priorities based on risks to the Basin Plan

and Water Act compliance. The statement identifies

high-risk areas and activities that will be undertaken

by the MDBA to further understand, monitor or

respond to the identified risks.

In 2020-21 there were 5 priorities, with 12 activities

planned to address these. Four activities were

completed, 5 activities were commenced, and 3 were

deferred until 2021-22 due to resourcing constraints

and new priority activities.

A report on the compliance priorities for 2020-21

can be found on the MDBA website at www.

mdba.gov.au/basin-plan/compliance-enforcement/

compliance-priorities

Table 6: Annual compliance priority area activities undertaken in 2020-21

Activities Result

Water Resource Plan Compliance (one activity complete)

• Commence its WRP compliance

program to ensure WRPs are

complied with. This includes

a rolling program of WRP

compliance audits and setting

annual WRP compliance

reporting for the Basin states.

• Complete.

• The MDBA’s risk based approached was enhanced by the development and

implementation of an internal Compliance dashboard, to manage risk detail

content for risk assessments.

• The risk assessment process identified compliance priorities to inform and

support the introduction of the Inspector General for Water Compliance

formed by the amended Water Act.

• The first Matter 19 report (Schedule 12, Basin Plan 2012) was received

from Queensland for the Warrego-Paroo-Nebine Water Resource Plan. The

report provided a summary of the compliance and enforcement approach

and undertakings in relation to the rules and obligations contained within the

water resource plan. For more information see: https://www.mdba.gov.au/

basin-plan/basin-wide-compliance-enforcement

• The MDBA assessed water resource plans and SDL water accounting for the

2019-2020 water year. These regulatory functions act as key inputs into

shaping the compliance program.

Unauthorised water take (4 activities: one complete, one partially met, 2 deferred)

• Assurance review of the

implementation of revised Basin

state metering policies, with a

focus on compliance of large

meters in the northern Basin.

• Partially met

• A review of the NSW Metering Policy Implementation with a focus on surface

water pumps 500 mm and above, was commenced and will be finalised in the

2021-2022 year.

• To assist the implementation of metering reform, the MDBA has been

involved in the growth of the metering market. There are 15 meters, from 11

manufacturers on the Australian market which meet the requirements of the

Australian Standard for non-urban water meters (AS4747). Compliant meters

are available for pipes ranging from 25 mm to 1800 mm.

• To ensure coverage, accuracy and consistency of Basin states metering

implementation, the Metrological Assurance Framework 2 (MAF2) was

progressed building on earlier national metering reform work that started with

the National Water Initiative. MAF2 will make it easier to comply with the

Australian Standard for non-urban water metering.

Activities Result

• Audit and assurance activities

into meter coverage and

accuracy.

• Complete.

• The Compliance Compact Review May 2021 (https://www.mdba.gov.au/sites/

default/files/pubs/murray-darling-basin-compliance-compact-2021.pdf) was

jointly reviewed by Basin parties. The review highlighted improvements

across a range of compliance activities in all states, particularly in metering

and measurement. Recommendations from the review involve developing

and adopting water compliance standards, that can provide a consistent set of

benchmarking metrics for water compliance and performance assessment.

• The Murray-Darling Basin Compliance Compact Assurance Report 2020 (https://

www.mdba.gov.au/sites/default/files/pubs/murray-darling-basin-compliance-compact-assurance-report-2020.pdf) provided the MDBA’s annual independent

assessment of Basin governments’ progress against commitments which they

made in the Basin Compliance Compact 2018.

• Targeted compliance reporting

on compliance and enforcement

efforts around floodplain

harvesting take.

• Deferred

• Targeted compliance efforts around floodplain harvesting take have been

deferred due to delays in New South Wales regulation on floodplain

harvesting licensing.

• Targeted review of groundwater

compliance arrangements.

• Deferred

• The targeted review of groundwater compliance arrangements has been

deferred to the 2021-2022 water year.

Protection of environmental water and first flush flows (3 activities: 2 complete, one deferred)

• Audits and compliance reporting

on first flush flow protections

and protection rules in the

northern Basin.

• Complete.

• An audit was commenced on the Warrego-Paroo-Nebine Water Resource Plan

(QLD) application of rules to protect first flush flows, during the significant

rain in the northern Basin in early 2020. Final report due to be published in

July. The audit confirmed that announced periods of water harvesting for the

flow event in the Warrego from February to April 2020 were determined in

accordance with the accredited rules set out in the Resource Operation Plan,

although it raised concerns regarding the compliance arrangements in place to

ensure accurate metering and measurement of take.

• A review examined how the Southern Spring Flow event (2019) complied

with Basin Plan environmental watering principles (No. 3, 4, 7 and 8)1. The

review, to be published in July, found adherence to the principles is evident

and improving, largely due to the coordination role of the Southern Connected

Basin Environmental Water Committee and their stakeholder involvement.

• Support for Basin state

compliance agencies to use

remote imagery to complement

their water compliance

monitoring and enforcement

activities.

• Complete

• The MDBA uses remote sensing to proactively monitor compliance with rules

around water flows and take across the Basin. The MDBA improved the access

and automation of live satellite imagery data, to support the on-ground role

of Basin state water compliance agencies, enabling timely and targeted water

compliance activities.

• Reporting and audits of the

implementation of prerequisite

policy measures.

• Deferred

• A review on the implementation of prerequisite policy measures (PPMs) has

been deferred.

1 As per Chapter 8, Part 4, Division 6 of the Basin Plan 2012

Goal 2 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 41

42 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 2

Activities Result

Sustainable Diversion Limit accounting (one activity partially met)

• Commence a 6-year program

to ensure that the MDBA is

continuously improving how

annual water accounts are

compiled. This will incorporate

methods for addressing

growth in use, interstate trade

accounting arrangements

and updated climate change

research.

• Partially met

• The MDBA has published the Sustainable diversion limit (SDL) accounting

improvement strategy 2020 - 2025 (https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/

policies-guidelines/sustainable-diversion-limit-sdl-accounting-improvement-strategy) The strategy outlines how the MDBA will continue to improve the

SDL accounting framework in conjunction with the Basin states over the next

5 years. It includes work to align water accounting concepts with the Bureau

of Meteorology and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

• An SDL Accounting Data Management Project commenced to improve the

accounting and compliance processes in a streamlined system, including data

acquisition, management, analysis and reporting. The first phase is scheduled

to be in place for the collection and analysis of the 2020-21 water take data.

• The sustainable diversion limits commenced from 1 July 2019. The MDBA has

been working with Basin states to account for water taken in the 2019-20

water year and compliance against SDL limits. The publication of the SDL

compliance outcomes is expected to occur early in the 2020-21 water year.

Water trade (3 activities)

• Increase resourcing and expand

its water trade program.

• Partially met

• Existing resources were directed to the water trade program to undertake the

audits. Some additional resources were provided for specific short-term tasks.

• Dedicate resources to ensuring

compliance with the Basin Plan

by irrigation infrastructure

operators, and compliance with

market integrity rules such as

insider trading.

• Partially met

• A project commenced to investigate the options for a monitoring system to

proactively address insider trading in the Murray-Darling Basin.

• An audit was undertaken to assess Irrigation Infrastructure Operators’

compliance with basin plan requirements to disclose the reasons for any

restrictions on the trade, specifically delivery entitlements.

• Additionally, an audit was undertaken on the obligations by an Approving

authority to disclose interest to trade when approving trade of water

access rights.

• Review the priorities by the end

of 2020 to include our response

to the findings of the ACCC

inquiry into water markets in the

Murray-Darling Basin.

• Partially met

• The MDBA supported the ACCC’s inquiry into water markets. The ACCC’s final

report was published in March 2021. The report identified issues requiring

policy reform and regulatory control.

• Review of strategic priorities for Basin Plan water trading rules has been

deferred and will be considered in conjunction with the establishment of

Inspector-General of Water Compliance.

The MDBA publishes information about audit activities

Measure 3.2 is ‘Percentage of MDBA’s compliance

audit and review reports published’. The 2020-21

target was ‘100%’.

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘met’. One

completed review was published.

Section 13.20 of the Basin Plan requires that all

audits carried out under section 13.10 of the Basin

Plan be published. Measuring the percentage of

compliance audit and review reports that are

published demonstrates whether there is compliance

with the Basin Plan and also demonstrates the

MDBA’s commitment to increasing transparency

about water compliance.

Performance is assessed by measuring the number

of reports finalised during the water year against the

number of reports published.

The Audit Work Program for 2020-21 proposed

9 audits and reviews addressing a range of

compliance priorities. The Audit Work Program can

be found on the MDBA website.

The MDBA publishes other information about regulatory activities

Measure 3.3 is: ‘Information regarding the MDBA’s

regulatory activities is published quarterly’.

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘partially met’.

Aside from its legal obligation to publish audits

under section 13.20 of the Basin Plan, the MDBA

is committed to increased public reporting about

its regulatory activities under the December

2018 Commonwealth-state Murray-Darling Basin

compliance compact.

The MDBA maintains a water compliance reporting

webpage where it publishes information about its

regulatory activities.

During 2020-21 the MDBA maintained a register

of allegations of non-compliance it had received. It

published updates in November 2020, March 2021

and June 2021 noting whether allegations had been

received, referred or closed.

Table 7: The MDBA’s Audit and Assurance Work Program for 2020-21

Audit Compliance priorities addressed Status

Condamine-Balonne WRP • Metering

• SDL compliance

• Compliance enforcement

arrangements

In progress

ACT WRP • Metering

• SDL compliance

• Compliance enforcement

arrangements

Deferred

NSW Stage 1 Non-urban Metering Framework Implementation • Metering In progress

Southern Spring Flow event 2019 • Environmental water In progress

NSW Prerequisite Policy Measures implementation (NSW, Vic, SA) • Environmental water Deferred

Irrigation Infrastructure Operators compliance • Water trade compliance In progress

Approval Authority - Disclosure of Interests • Water trade compliance In progress

Basin Compliance compact Assurance • Compliance improvement Completed

SDLAM Project Assurance • Basin Plan implementation In progress

Note: From 2021-22 progress or deferral will be managed and reported by IGWC.

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44 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 2

The Independent Assurance Committee (IAC) provides

expert advice on the design, implementation and

adequacy of the MDBA’s Basin Plan compliance

program. The IAC consists of 4 independent experts

with knowledge across a range of relevant fields,

including water and natural resources policy and

management, and regulation and compliance.

The committee generally meets 4 times a year

and provides written reports about the MDBA’s

regulatory framework and activities to the Authority.

The committee met in September 2020. Copies of

published IAC reports can be found on the MDBA

website at www.mdba.gov.au/basin-plan-roll-out/

compliance-enforcement/compliance-independent-assurance-committee

Annual assurance of Basin state and Australian

Government progress in implementing their

Murray-Darling Basin Compliance Compact

commitments was also completed. The Murray-

Darling Basin Compliance Compact Annual Assurance

Report 2020 was published in June 2021 (see

Measure 1.1—Percentage of WRPs assessed by

MDBA for accreditation) and is available on the

MDBA website at www.mdba.gov.au/publications/

independent-reports/basin-compliance-compact

The MDBA supports improvement in metering and monitoring of water take

Measure 3.4 is ‘The MDBA’s engagement with

states to support the improvement of the metering

and monitoring of water take’. Performance is

qualitatively assessed.

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘met’. Progress

has been made towards a number of improvements

as reported in the Compliance Compact Annual

Report and with a revised Metrological Assurance

Framework agreed by all Australian states and

territories and published.

The MDBA engages with the states to support

the improvement of metering and monitoring of

water take. Accurate measurement and increased

transparency of water take is fundamental to

monitoring compliance with the Basin Plan. Water

metering is one of the 5 themes to be addressed

under the Compliance Compact. The MDBA

works with the states through interjurisdictional

working groups and active engagement in

collaborative projects.

In December 2019 the Basin governments agreed to

work together to make it easier to select compliant

meters and maintain a meter throughout its life.

On 4 June 2021 the MDBA released its annual

assessment of actions described in the Basin

Compliance Compact. Basin governments have made

good headway in the past year across many of the

agreed compliance initiatives; however, progress on

delivering water metering accuracy and coverage

is uneven. Accurate metering, measurement and

monitoring are fundamental to public confidence

about equitable and sustainable water use.

All states and territories have recently agreed

to updated rules and guidelines to support the

regulation of non-urban water meters. Changes

to the Metrological Assurance Framework include

easier and cheaper ways to maintain meters and

validate their accuracy. It is also now easier to

understand when existing meters may be retained

in service, with clear pathways for regulators and

water users to follow. In addition, work is underway

with a significant number of stakeholders, including

regulators, water users, meter manufacturers, meter

verification authorities and others, to revise the

Australian Standard for non-urban water meters.

This work will not change the technical requirements

for non-urban water meters, but it will adjust the

processes and methods to maintain meters for

accuracy and durability. The revision is expected to

take more than 12 months.

The MDBA is also working with industry to bring

more compliant meters to the market, improve

communication on maintenance requirements and

support the use of accurate meters.

Basin states require, or are moving to ensure, that

new and replacement non-urban water meters

comply with the Australian Standard for non-urban

water meters (AS4747). Each Basin state has its own

policy for non-urban water meters, and in time

most meters will be renewed and will meet the

Australian Standard.

The MDBA continues to work with the Queensland

and New South Wales governments towards

improving the monitoring and reporting of

floodplain harvesting.

The MDBA engages with regulated entities on water trading rules

Measure 3.5 is ‘The MDBA’s engagement with

regulated entities to implement the water trading

rules.’ Performance is qualitatively assessed.

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘met’.

Engaging with regulated agencies is an essential

element of the MDBA’s compliance and enforcement

role. Regulated entities need to understand and know

their obligations in order to foster compliance.

The Basin Plan water trading rules contribute to

achieving the Basin water market and trading

objectives set out in Schedule 3 of the Water Act.

The rules apply to the Australian Government, the

Basin states, irrigation infrastructure operators and

individual market participants. The rules only apply

to water access rights that can be traded under

state water management law and are outlined in

the guidelines to the water trade rules on the MDBA

website at: www.mdba.gov.au/publications/policies-guidelines/guidelines-water-trading-rules

The MDBA prioritises its regulatory and compliance

activities in accordance with the Strategic Priorities

- Basin Plan water trading rules. The priorities are

published on the MDBA website at www.mdba.gov.

au/basin-plan/compliance-enforcement/compliance-priorities

During the year the MDBA continued its ongoing

engagement work. As well, the MDBA supported the

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s

inquiry into water markets. The ACCC’s final report

was published on 26 March 2021.

The MDBA assesses the Modern Regulator Improvement Tool

Measure 3.6 is ‘The MDBA’s biennial maturity

assessment on the Modern Regulator Improvement

Tool’, with a 2020-21 target ‘70% ‘maturing’ or above’.

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘partially met’.

The Modern Regulator Improvement Tool is a

best-practice tool developed by the Australasian

Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators

neTwork (AELERT), an international group that aims

to share best-practice expertise and learnings in

environmental regulation. The tool sets out key

criteria for regulators to assess their agency maturity

and identify areas for improvement.

Assessments are undertaken biennially. The MDBA

completed the assessment in 2020-21, with a score

of 64% and 8 out 12 areas in mature attributes. This

was an improvement from 41% in 2018-19, with 5

out of the 7 areas still not in mature attributes.

The MDBA works continuously to improve its

maturity as a modern regulator and engages with

other regulators with a focus on capability building.

Under the Compliance Compact, the MDBA

committed to establishing the Water Compliance

Community of Practice to enable water compliance

officers across Australia to develop networks,

collaborate on water compliance policies and

frameworks and share information. The MDBA

coordinates the Water Compliance Community of

Practice through AELERT.

Goal 2 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 45

46 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 3

Goal 3 Efficiently and effectively operate the River Murray system for partner governments

Role of the MDBA

In partnership with Basin governments, promote and

coordinate planning, management and sharing of

water and other natural resources of the Basin. The

water sharing and joint management arrangements

for this partnership are set out in the Murray-Darling

Basin Agreement 2008. The joint programs include

River Murray operations and natural resource

management programs.

The natural resource management programs have

evolved as a shared response to the need to manage

some of the environmental consequences of water

use in the Basin. A work plan is agreed between the

joint program parties and the MDBA specifying the

key activities to be undertaken.

Desired outcomes

• River Murray operations assets allow efficient,

effective and safe management and delivery of

water that is fit for purpose

• The waters of the River Murray system are:

— shared between the states of New South

Wales, Victoria and South Australia as per the

Murray-Darling Basin Agreement

— managed to meet multiple outcomes and

objectives set by partner governments

• Improved environmental outcomes in the

southern connected system, consistent with the

Basin Plan

• Delivery of all water for the environment in

the southern basin is coordinated, including the

jointly held water portfolio

• Water management, monitoring and First Nations

engagement at the River Murray icon sites

supports adaptive management

• Partner governments jointly manage salinity to

deliver the Basin Salinity Management 2030

Strategy (BSM2030), consistent with Schedule B

of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement

• Water quality of the River Murray system is

monitored consistent with the Murray-Darling

Basin Agreement and informs improved

management

• Recovery and persistence of native fish

populations

• Communities are actively involved in native

fish recovery

2020-21 key activities

• Implement asset management strategies and

oversee asset management activities

• Manage and deliver Basin government water

shares in accordance with the Murray-Darling

Basin Agreement

• Direct the operation of River Murray system

assets to meet multiple human and environmental

objectives

• Investigate the loss of capacity within the

Barmah Choke and potential options to by-pass

the choke and reduce shortfall risk

• Coordinate implementation of natural resource

management programs on behalf of partner

governments, including The Living Murray

initiative, water quality monitoring, the Basin

Salinity Management 2030 Strategy and the

Native Fish Management and Recovery Strategy

• Coordinate implementation of enabling programs

on behalf of partner governments including water

resources core modelling, interstate water trade

under Schedule D, secretariat, data management,

Basin science platform and environmental

monitoring and evaluation

Source: Murray-Darling Basin Authority Corporate Plan 2020-21

Performance and analysis

Goal 3 has two key performance indicators (KPIs):

KPi 4: Operate the River Murray system in accordance with the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement

KPi 5: Maintain and improve the health of the River Murray system (and the Basin, where relevant) in

accordance with the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement and associated agreements

Performance on KPI 4

Table 8: Performance against targets for Goal 3, KPI 4

KPI Measure 2020-21 Target Result

KPi 4: Operate the River Murray system

in accordance with the Murray-Darling

Basin Agreement

4.1 MDBA has coordinated and overseen

the asset activities as agreed and

approved by the Ministerial Council in

the Annual Work Plan

Qualitatively

assessed

Met

4.2 MDBA has fulfilled its obligations

under the objectives and outcomes as

independently assessed

Met Met

4.3 Number of adverse rulings from

jurisdictional dam safety regulators

Zero Met

4.4 Number of unscheduled major

outages of assets

Zero Met

4.5 Significant incidents managed

in accordance with River Murray

Operations Committee endorsed

procedures

All Met

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48 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 3

The MDBA operates the River Murray system

The MDBA maintains and operates the River Murray

system on behalf of partner governments and in

accordance with the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement

to achieve a healthy working Basin through the

integrated management of water resources.

The River Murray is Australia’s longest river, and

flows for 2,500 km through New South Wales,

Victoria and South Australia. The river sustains towns

and communities and agricultural production, and

provides habitat for many unique Australian plants

and animals.

Basin states have long-standing arrangements,

dating back more than 100 years, to jointly manage

the water and build the assets of the River Murray

system. The MDBA operates the River Murray system

on behalf of the New South Wales, Victorian and

South Australian governments. The Murray-Darling

Basin Agreement (the agreement) sets out the water

sharing rules across the states.

A detailed overview of the management of the River

Murray system can be found on the MDBA website.

Under the agreement, the MDBA and the Basin states

store, manage, deliver and share water; operate

salinity interception schemes; enable navigation;

and support recreation and tourism. Regular River

Murray updates about rainfall, inflows, salinity and

river operations are published on the MDBA website.

The Independent River Operations Review Group reviews river operations

The MDBA’s maintenance and operation of the River

Murray system is reviewed by the Independent

River Operations Review Group (IRORG). IRORG is an

advisory committee established under section 203 of

the Water Act.

The outcome for a number of the measures for

this KPI are verified through the review conducted

by IRORG. The review is based on data from the

previous year due to the lead time involved in

collecting and reporting the data, but IRORG also

assesses the practice and procedures of the river

operations team which are the basis of activity for

the current year.

The policies and processes for operating the river

system are well prescribed and do not change

from year to year other than to make incremental

improvements. In this regard, a positive assessment

from IRORG for the previous year can be taken as a

general satisfaction with the operating procedures

carried forward to the current water year.

The IRORG review considers the MDBA’s performance

in managing the river to meet the states’ consumptive

and environmental water demands and compliance

with the provisions of the Objectives and Outcomes

document agreed by the Basin Officials Committee

(Objectives and outcomes for river operations in the

River Murray System, various dates).

IRORG’s review process is based on:

• issues documented in the MDBA’s report River

Murray system summary of river operations

report 2019-20 water year (https://www.mdba.

gov.au/publications/independent-reports/river-murray-system-annual-summaries-reviews-river-operations)

• issues raised in interviews and in formal

submissions by jurisdictions

• any issues arising from IRORG’s own review of

available information.

The Interim Inspector-General of Murray-Darling

Basin Water Resources commented in his April 2020

report Impact of lower inflows on state shares under

the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement (www.igwc.gov.

au/reviews-reports) that the IRORG review process

was independent and effective.

Water year operating context

The 2020-21 MDBA water year brought welcome

relief with wetter conditions than previous

consecutive dry years for the River Murray system.

However, rainfall for the 2020-21 water year

was below average to very much below average

for the mid and lower Murray regions and into

South Australia.

River Murray system inflows (not including releases

from Snowy Hydro, inter-valley trade deliveries,

managed environmental deliveries from tributaries

or inflows to the Menindee Lakes) during the

2020-21 water year were approximately 5,325 GL.

Total active storage for the River Murray System

started the water year at 2,960 GL, around

2,000 GL less than the long-term average for that

time of the year. The active storage peaked at

5,200 GL in early November 2020 before reducing

to a low of 3,720 GL by the end of April 2021. At

the end of May 2021, the MDBA active storage had

increased to 4,525 GL.

Significant rainfall in the northern Basin commenced

in December 2020 and contributed to stream flows

that connected the upper Darling with the Menindee

Lakes system in January 2021. Further significant

rainfall and flooding across the catchments of

northern NSW and southern Queensland in March

2021 generated substantial inflow into the

Barwon-Darling with the event providing inflows to

the Menindee Lakes system. Storage in the Menindee

Lakes reached the 640 GL trigger (as set out in

the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement) to become

a part of shared River Murray system resource on

7 May 2021. This is the first time since December

2017 that Menindee Lakes has contributed to the

shared River Murray resource. Under the water

sharing arrangements, the MDBA can call on water

from the lakes on behalf of the states to meet

water orders downstream. Operating the Menindee

Lakes is challenging, and whenever the MDBA calls

on water on behalf of Basin states we consider

meeting community needs, enhancing environmental

outcomes as well as the needs of downstream water

users who order water.

Figure 11: River Murray System monthly inflows: 2020-21, 2019-20, 10-year average, long-term average

Source: River Murray System Summary of River Operations - 2020-21, September 2021, Figure 3.

0

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

1400

1600

1800

Gigalitres (GL)

June July August September October November December January February March April May

Long-term average

2020-21

10-year average

2019-20

Goal 3 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 49

50 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 3

The MDBA oversees asset activities

Measure 4.1 is ‘MDBA has coordinated and overseen

the asset activities as agreed and approved by

the Ministerial Council in the Annual Work Plan’.

Performance is qualitatively assessed.

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘met’. The majority

of asset activities were delivered, and progressed as

endorsed by River Murray Operations Committee.

Each year the asset activities are agreed and

approved by the Ministerial Council and set out in

the Annual Work Plan. Assessment and reporting is

ongoing throughout the year so that any issues can

be dealt with.

Coordinating and overseeing the asset activities in

the Annual Work Plan demonstrates:

• work is delivered efficiently and integrated with

operational requirements

• work delivered meets the requirements of the

joint venture partners and the Basin Plan

• assets remain able to deliver their required level

of service

• the MDBA protects the interests of the partner

governments.

Despite the impacts of COVID-19, overall, the assets

program has delivered the majority of its planned

activities. There is no evidence of an asset and the

state constructing authorities not meeting a service

level requirement in delivering water allocations and

providing navigation and fish passage. The assets

are well maintained and are not deteriorating faster

than expected.

Of the agreed deliverables for 2020-21, 78% have

been completed or are on track (see Figure 12). Of

the remaining 22% of deliverables, the majority had

minor issues resulting in slight delays in delivery,

mostly as a result of the impact of COVID-19

restrictions and effects on supply chains.

To enhance the program, the MDBA led and

progressed the major revision of the River Murray

Operations (RMO) Asset Management Plan in

2020-21. This revision incorporates improved clarity

in line of sight from the corporate objectives to level

of service, risk-based prioritisation of work activities

and updated asset management strategies. This was

done with the involvement of the state constructing

authorities. Further work is required in 2021-22

to complete this project.

Figure 12: Performance against agreed 2020-21 Annual Work Plan deliverables for assets program

■ On track ■ Minor issues ■ Major issues ■ Complete

0 2 4 6 10 8 12

Operation services - hydrometric network

Environmental works and measures - operate and maintain

Environmental works and measures - construction

Salt interception schemes

Asset management strategies

Water assets SA

Water assets VIC

Water assets NSW

The MDBA also led the preparation of the RMO

2021-22 budget and work plan, working closely with

the state constructing authorities to challenge the

prudency, efficiency and deliverability of the budget

activities. A risk-based prioritisation method was

used to justify the river management budget.

Two other measures relate to asset management.

Measure 4.3 is ‘Number of adverse rulings from

jurisdictional dam safety regulators’. The 2020-21

target was zero.

The MDBA oversees the RMO asset program, which

is required to manage dam safety in accordance with

state dam safety legislation or, if that does not exist,

the Australian National Committee on Large Dams

guidelines. Where dam safety is not managed in

accordance with appropriate dam safety legislation

and/or does not comply with best practice, an

adverse ruling will be issued from jurisdictional dam

safety regulators.

During 2020-21 no adverse rulings were received.

Measure 4.4 is ‘Number of unscheduled major

outages of assets’. The 2020-21 target was zero.

Unscheduled major outages of assets could impact

on the ability to deliver water as required under the

agreement and the Basin Plan. Unscheduled outages

are reported in the annual IRORG report. Any outage

with exceptional impacts is reported at the time

through the specified channels and is also reported

by IRORG.

In 2020-21 no major outages were reported.

The MDBA has obligations under the objectives and outcomes

Measure 4.2 is ‘MDBA has fulfilled its obligations

under the objectives and outcomes as independently

assessed’. Performance is qualitatively assessed.

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘met’. Due to the

complexities of pulling together information on any

particular water year, the performance assessments

outlined here are lagged measures and focus on the

2019-20 water year.

The review of 2019-20 river operations by the

IRORG concluded that the MDBA had generally

complied with the range of provisions in the

Objectives and Outcomes document, including:

• that all the general objectives for river

operations were achieved overall in 2019-20,

despite one specific outcome area receiving

a ‘qualified achievement rating’ in relation to

the management of hydrometric stations. The

MDBA contracts states to undertake hydrometric

monitoring and advised IRORG that it is moving

to ensure all states can provide formal assurance

of data quality and methods. These have yet

to be fully implemented hence the qualified

achievement.

• 98% of the specific objectives and outcomes

were fully achieved. The one area of qualified

achievement related to minor breaches of flow

targets which had no material impact on river

operations, the environment or communities.

IRORG’s overall assessment was that the MDBA

performed well throughout 2019-20 and monitored

system performance closely and responded

appropriately with adjustments to operations in

the face of these challenging conditions. All partner

governments endorsed this assessment of the

MDBA’s performance.

The MDBA manages significant incidents

Measure 4.5 is ‘Significant incidents are managed in

accordance with River Murray Operations Committee

(RMOC) endorsed procedures’. The 2020-21 target

was that all significant incidents are managed as such.

If any significant incidents occurred and were not

managed in accordance with endorsed procedures

under the Objectives and Outcomes, the matter would

be addressed as part of the IRORG annual review.

For an event that triggers the River Murray system

emergency action plan (EAP), a post-event report

would be prepared as soon as practicable. This report

would include proposed changes to recommendations

for the EAP and/or flood operations procedures

arising from the learnings during an event. The

post-event report would also identify whether the

endorsed procedures were followed.

In 2020-21 no incidents were reported as not

being managed in accordance with the endorsed

procedures.

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52 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 3

Performance on KPI 5: Maintain and improve the health of the River Murray system

Table 9: Performance against targets for Goal 3, KPI 5

KPI Measure 2020-21 Target Result

KPi 5: Maintain and improve the health

of the River Murray system (and the

Basin, where relevant) in accordance

with the Murray-Darling Basin

Agreement and associated agreements

5.1 Percentage of report cards with

maintained or improved environmental

health for 7 key sites of the River

Murray system (taking account of

natural climate variability)

70% Not met

5.2 Evidence that key site report cards

were used in the annual planning for the

coordinated delivery of water for the

environment to maintain and improve

the health of the River Murray system

Qualitatively

assessed

Met

5.3 Percentage of BSM2030 salinity

target in Schedule B of the Murray-

Darling Basin Agreement achieved

100% Met

5.4 Percentage of BSM2030 biennial

audit findings that are progressed

100% Met

5.5 Monitor and report on water quality

in the River Murray system to aid in

decision-making

100% fortnightly

reports sent and

qualitatively

assessed

Met

Assessing the environmental health of The Living Murray icon sites

Measure 5.1 is ‘Percentage of report cards with

maintained or improved environmental health

for 7 key sites of the River Murray system

(taking account of natural climate variability)’.

The  2020-21 target was ‘70%’.

The 7 key sites referred to in measure 5.1 are

the icon sites of The Living Murray initiative.

The Living Murray initiative

The Living Murray initiative is a partnership

between the Australian Government and Basin state

and territory governments. It aims to improve the

environmental health of significant forests, wetlands

and lakes along the River Murray as part of helping to

deliver the Basin Plan objectives and outcomes. The

initiative is managed by the MDBA.

The icon sites are a collection of locations along

the River Murray, selected for their high ecological

value and cultural significance. Each site is regionally

and nationally significant to First Nations and other

communities and most are recognised internationally

under the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental

treaty that provides the framework for national action

and international cooperation for the conservation

and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The

Living Murray icon sites are therefore important

indicator sites that provide information about the

health of the River Murray system. More information

about the icon sites is available on the MDBA website

at www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/

water-for-environment/progress-outcomes

To demonstrate that the environmental health of

the River Murray system is being maintained and

improved in accordance with the Murray-Darling

Basin Agreement and associated agreements, The

Living Murray activities focus on:

• coordinating, planning and delivering water for

the environment

• undertaking complementary natural resource

management activities

• monitoring and tracking the environmental health

of key indicator/icon sites through time.

Working together with regional communities

is foundational to The Living Murray activities.

This includes over a decade of supporting First

Nations participation in water management and

planning through The Living Murray Indigenous

Partnerships Program.

In conjunction with other environmental water

holders, The Living Murray publishes an annual

booklet of case studies on the MDBA website -

https://www.mdba.gov.au/sites/default/files/pubs/

rivers-the-veins-of-our-country-2019-20.pdf - to

highlight the partnerships at work with First Nations

people to achieve shared environmental and

cultural benefits.

The icon site report cards

Each year, the MDBA monitors and reports on the

health of the icon sites using a report card system.

Site report cards contain condition grades that

are derived from approximately 100 scientific

monitoring reports each year. This includes condition

monitoring to assess site health and intervention

monitoring to inform the real-time management of

water for the environment and measure ecological

responses to watering. The projects also monitor

emerging risks, such as the potential for poor

water quality.

Progress is qualitatively assessed by using the

monitoring reports to determine whether each

site’s ecological objective has been met, not met

or partially met each year. There are between

8 and 12 environmental objectives per site that

cover fish, birds, vegetation and other key fauna.

The percentage of objectives met is then used to

calculate an overall grade for the site.

Measure 5.1 concerns the percentage of report

cards with maintained or improved environmental

health for 7 key sites. The measure is calculated by

comparing the current year’s overall grade for a site

to the previous year’s grade. The health of the site

is considered:

• improved if it moves to a higher grade

• maintained if the grade does not change from

an A or B

• declining if the grade falls, or remains as a C or D.

The 2020-21 target for measure 5.1 was that

70% of report cards show maintained or improved

environmental health for the 7 key sites.

The grades for the 2020-21 reports are based

on 2019-20 monitoring results, as it takes time

to assess and assemble the monitoring reports.

The target of 70% reflects an outcome of 5 out of

7 reports cards maintaining or improving condition

and recognises that environmental water managers

are working within a highly variable natural system.

The annual report cards are published on the MDBA

website at https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/water-for-environment/progress-outcomes

The 2020-21 target for measure 5.1 was not met.

The 2019-20 results show that one site improved

condition, 2 sites maintained ‘good’ condition, whilst

the remaining 4 sites were classified as declining (see

Figure 13). Therefore, the target of 70% was not met.

This result reflects the impacts of a third consecutive

year of hot and dry conditions across the southern

Murray-Darling Basin. These climate conditions

placed stress on the icon sites and resulted in less

water for the environment being available to help

meet ecological objectives.

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54 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 3

Use of icon site report cards in planning

Measure 5.2 is ‘Evidence that key site report cards

were used in the annual planning for the coordinated

delivery of water for the environment to maintain

and improve the health of the River Murray system’.

Performance is qualitatively assessed.

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘met’. Icon site

report cards were used in the Southern Connected

Basin Environmental Watering Committee (SCBEWC)

planning.

This measure refers to evidence that icon site report

cards were used in the annual planning for the

coordinated delivery of water for the environment to

maintain and improve the health of the River Murray

system. To maintain and improve river health under

a highly variable natural system, it is important to

employ adaptive management. Monitoring allows the

MDBA and Basin states to learn and adapt but, to do

this, monitoring results have to connect in with the

annual planning cycle for water for the environment.

The SCBEWC is the group responsible for

coordinating the delivery of water for the

environment in the southern Basin to maximise

environmental outcomes and give effect to the

Basin Plan. The SCBEWC’s membership includes

environmental water holders, water managers,

river operators and representatives from the

Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations.

ADELAIDE

B

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

VICTORIA

Blanchetown

Goolwa

Mildura

Swan Hill Deniliquin

Echuca

Lower Lakes, Coorong & Murray Mouth

Chowilla Floodplains

Hattah Lakes

Gunbower Forest

Koondrook-Perricoota Forest

Barmah- Millewa Forest

Lindsay, Mulcra and Wallpolla Islands

C

B

B

MURRAY RIVER

D

NEW SOUTH WALES

C

A

B

Grades

A Excellent Most (75-100%) of ecological objectives have been met

B Good More than half (50-74%) of ecological objectives have been met

C Fair Fewer than half (25-49%) of ecological objectives have been met

D Needs attention Few (0-24%) of ecological objectives have been met

- Data not available -

• Condition grade is based on how well the sites are tracking against ecological objectives for birds, fish and vegetation at each site.

• Shape indicates how condition compares to the previous year. For example, a downward arrow means fewer objectives were met compared to the previous year, and a box shape means condition was maintained.

Figure 13: Icon site report card grades for 2019-20

At the River Murray system scale, monitoring

data from around 100 reports per year is used

to determine the annual performance against

objectives both for each site and ecological theme.

This then informs the prioritisation of water for

the environment demands across the River Murray

system for the coming year via the SCBEWC’s annual

planning process.

A summary report of 2019-20 monitoring results

and trends in condition was presented and discussed

at the SCBEWC annual planning forum in April 2021.

Key points included:

• Site condition over the longer term is showing a

trend of overall improvement as environmental

flows are delivered and environmental works

are used.

• Rapid improvement of health (condition scores)

can be seen after large natural floods, with

environmental water helping to maintain

condition during dry times.

Grades

A Excellent Most (75-100%) of ecological objectives have been met

B Good More than half (50-74%) of ecological objectives have been met

C Fair Fewer than half (25-49%) of ecological objectives have been met

D Needs attention Few (0-24%) of ecological objectives have been met

- Data not available -

• 8-17 ecological objectives per site

• Bird, fish and vegetation objectives

• 80-100 monitoring reports each year

• 13 years of data

Barmah- Millewa  Forest

Gunbower  Forest

Koondrook- Perricoota Forest Hattah Lakes

Lindsay- Mulcra-Wallpolla Islands

Chowilla 

Lower Lakes Coorong Murray Mouth

2019-20 B B D A B C C

2018-19 B A D B B B C

2017-18 A B D A B B C

2016-17 A B C A B B B

2015-16 B B D A B C C

2014-15 B B D A - C B

2013-14 C B D B C C B

2012-13 C B D C C C B

2011-12 C C D B B C B

2010-11 B B D C C B D

2009-10 C C D D D C D

2008-09 D C D D D C D

2007-08 D D D D D -

Environmental works/works used

Wet Moderate Dry Very wet

Figure 14: Icon site conditions over time

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56 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 3

• In 2019-20 there were mixed results for site

condition. Most sites are starting to show a

decline in their relative grade, meeting fewer

objectives in 2019-20 than in 2018-19. This is

likely to be in response to 3 consecutive years of

challenging hot, dry and low flow conditions.

• Downstream icon sites are typically in poorer

condition than upstream sites.

• Sites where environmental works are not able to

be operated are also in poor condition.

• Several years of consecutive watering will be

required to significantly improve the poor health

and highly stressed condition of the Koondrook-

Perricoota Forest.

Overall trends by ecological theme include a steady

improvement in vegetation condition over time and

increasing detection of juvenile native fish in recent

years, potentially due to the increased emphasis

on providing coordinated environmental flows. In

contrast, waterbird numbers continue to decline

to low levels. This could be due to lack of suitable

habitat conditions or triggers for breeding, as well

as lack of suitable conditions for juveniles to survive

to adults.

The SCBEWC Annual Report provides an overview

of the significant achievements made in delivering

water for the environment each water year. The

report is provided to the Ministerial Council for

noting by 30 December each year as well as

published on the MDBA website at: https://www.

mdba.gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/southern-connected-basin-environmental-watering-committee-annual-reports

The BSM2030 salinity target is achieved

Measure 5.3 is ‘Percentage of BSM2030 salinity target

in Schedule B of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement

achieved’. The target for 2020-21 was ‘100%’.

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘met’, as reported

to Ministerial Council in March 2021.

Basin salinity management 2030 (BSM2030) is a

strategy for managing salinity in the Basin, agreed in

2015. Measure 5.3 is the percentage of the BSM2030

salinity targets described in Schedule B of the

Murray-Darling Basin Agreement that were achieved.

The requirement of the BSM2030 strategy is to

achieve the salinity targets on an annual basis.

The BSM2030 strategy’s focus is to continue to

ensure salinity levels in the shared water resources

are appropriate to protect economic, environmental,

cultural and social values. When the elements of

the strategy are implemented and Murray-Darling

Basin Agreement obligations are met, it contributes

significantly to maintaining and improving the health

of the River Murray system.

The impacts of any works and measures and

development activity undertaken by Basin

governments on river salinity are assessed using

computer models of the river system, recorded in a

register and published annually. In this process, the

achievement of the salinity target in Schedule B of

the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement is assessed,

reported annually and reviewed by the Independent

Audit Group for Salinity every 2 years.

The main Basin salinity target is to maintain the

average daily salinity at Morgan at a simulated level

of less than 800 electrical conductivity (EC) for at

least 95% of the time. This is modelled over the

benchmark period (1975-2000) under the current

land and water management regime. The benchmark

period provides a mechanism for consistently

assessing river salinity outcomes over a climatic

sequence that includes both wet and dry periods.

This is the tenth year in a row that the modelled

river salinity at Morgan has been below 800 EC for

95% of the time (see Figure 15). This is a result of

implementing consecutive salinity strategies by the

MDBA and Basin governments since 1988.

The operation of salt interception schemes

contributed to achieving the Morgan salinity target

by diverting approximately 452,431 tonnes of salt

away from the River Murray and nearby landscapes

in 2020-21.

Case study: salinity registers

The salinity registers are a critical aspect of

the BSM2030 Strategy and are an effective

environmental accountability framework

that considers economic impacts as well.

The registers provide the primary record of

jurisdictional accountability for actions that

affect river salinity.

The registers are an accounting tool that

records the debit and credit balance of

accountable actions that significantly

affect river salinity at Morgan in South

Australia. This accounting system provides

a transparent basis for making decisions

on Basin-wide trade-offs on salinity

management actions and investments in

joint works and measures.

Actions that reduce river salinity are

recorded as credits, while actions likely to

increase river salinity are recorded as debits.

Actions such as constructing salt interception

schemes and improvements in irrigation

practices can generate a credit. Actions such

as irrigation development may generate a

debit because in some areas they may lead

to increased salt loads to the River Murray.

In addition, actions such as permanent water

transfers in or out of an irrigation area may

result in either a credit or a debit. State and

territory governments report annually to the

MDBA, providing new or updated information

on accountable actions.

It is the MDBA’s responsibility to collate and

analyse this information and update the

registers each year. This enables changes in

river salinity impacts to be tracked over time.

It also provides estimates of the economic

costs and benefits arising from these salinity

effects. The updated salinity registers are

reported to Ministerial Council and are

published biennially at: https://www.mdba.

gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/basin-salinity-management-2030

The MDBA reported to Ministerial Council

that the states of New South Wales, Victoria

and South Australia maintained a net credit

status in the salinity registers, as required

under the Schedule B of the Murray-Darling

Basin Agreement, for 2019-20.

Figure 15: Modelled 95 percentile salinity over the 1975-2000 benchmark period at Morgan in South Australia due to the implementation of salinity management programs from 1988 to 2020 (excluding the salinity benefits from the Basin Plan implementation and The Living Murray initiative)

CASE STUDY

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58 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 3

Progress on BSM2030 audit findings

Measure 5.4 is ‘Percentage of BSM2030 biennial

audit findings that are progressed’. The 2020-21

target was ‘100%’

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘met’, noting that

3 recommendations were superseded with new

recommendations.

The BSM2030 strategy implementation, including the

MDBA and contracting governments’ performance,

is biennially audited (in the years the BSM2030

comprehensive reporting is carried out) by the

Independent Audit Group for Salinity. Their report

is presented to the Authority and the Ministerial

Council. The contracting governments advise the

MDBA quarterly via the Basin Salinity Management

Advisory Panel and this guides the BSM2030

implementation.

The biennial audit tracks the progress of BSM2030

implementation. Through these audits any risks to

strategy implementation and possible implications

on river salinity management are identified. The

progress of recommendations of the biennial audits

ensures that the salinity risks are managed to

maintain or improve the health of the River Murray

system. The completion of all audit recommendations

over a 2-year period demonstrates continuous

improvement in salinity management.

Some audit recommendations are short term and

others are long term. For example, a recent audit

recommended that a range of knowledge gaps,

such as climate change impacts, be explored in

the lead-up to the BSM2030 strategic review in

2026. There is an expectation that this work will

be undertaken over the next 6 years and there is

no requirement to complete this work in the 2-year

period. Also, some of the recommendations only

apply to the states, whereas others require the

states to complete some work before the MDBA

can complete the recommendation. For example,

the 2019 audit included one recommendation

directed at New South Wales and another directed

at Queensland.

The 2017-19 biennial audit report is at: https://www.

mdba.gov.au/publications/independent-reports/

reports-independent-audit-group-salinity Of the

9 recommendations in the report, 4 have been

completed, 3 have been progressed significantly

and the other 2 longer-term recommendations

(which would take multiple years to address) have

made satisfactory progress. The MDBA will present

progress on the audit recommendations to the

2019-21 audit to be held in November 2021.

The MDBA reports on water quality in the River Murray system

Measure 5.5 is ‘Monitor and report on water

quality in the River Murray system to aid in

decision-making’. The 2020-21 target was ‘100% of

fortnightly reports sent and qualitatively assessed’.

The 2020-21 result is assessed as ‘met’. 100%

of Basin Condition, Basin in Brief reports and

Water Quality Threats Map updates were prepared

and published.

To demonstrate that the health of the River

Murray system is being maintained and improved

in accordance with the Murray-Darling Basin

Agreement and associated agreements, the joint

programs focus on measuring, monitoring and

assessing river health outcomes.

The water quality monitoring carried out under

the River Murray Water Quality (RMWQ) program

provides a measure of the status of water quality

of the River Murray system and assists the Water

Quality Advisory Panel (WQAP) and the MDBA

in their decision-making to maintain or improve

water quality.

The legacy impacts from the 2019-20 Upper

Murray bushfires presented additional challenges

for sustaining water quality. In late February 2021,

significant water quality impacts occurred in Lake

Hume and immediately downstream as a result of

chemical and biological processes associated with

bushfire debris and sediment runoff into the lake.

This led to water with very low dissolved oxygen

levels being released from the lake, which impacted

aquatic species and the quality of potable water

being supplied to Albury City.

The MDBA responded with coordinated water quality

monitoring to better understand the processes

driving the water quality issues and adaptively

managed Lake Hume releases until the water quality

conditions improved and stabilised. Additional

water quality monitoring requirements were also

investigated to manage such situations in the future.

The fortnightly water quality reports have evolved

into monthly Basin Condition reporting and Basin in

Brief updates. The target of 100% was met with Basin

in Brief updates published on the MDBA website

every month during 2020-21. While each state

government also publishes water quality information

for their jurisdiction, this is the only whole-of-Basin

update that is available.

The MDBA also publishes a water quality threats

map, which is a qualitative risk matrix that is

reviewed regularly or updated as conditions change.

The map is a public communications tool providing

information about ongoing and emerging water

quality risks. The map and more information on

managing water quality is available on the MDBA

website at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/water-management/mdbas-river-operations/water-quality

These updates provide information about ongoing

and emerging water quality risks to the community,

operators and other agencies to aid their respective

decision-making and communication and enable

coordination across the Basin. For example, this

information has been used by environmental water

holders to work with river operators to target

environmental water delivery to meet multiple

outcomes. In addition, this information has also been

used to brief the MDBA and other relevant agencies

on specific incidents as part of the MDBA’s Basin

Condition Tracking and Emergency Response Group.

The River Murray Water Quality Monitoring Program

(RMWQMP) continued to collect data from state

contracting governments (South Australia, Victoria

and New South Wales) in the southern Basin. This

data directly informs decision-making by river

operators/managers. It is provided on request to

researchers, scientists and other relevant users.

Other water quality projects progressed or completed

under the RMWQ program in 2020-21 include:

• RMWQMP - water quality data trends analysis

2021 - La Trobe University

• Lake Hume blue-green algae monitoring and

forecasting - CSIRO

• flow and stratification based algal bloom

prediction model for the Murray River -

University of Technology Sydney

• regulation of Lake Victoria, developing strategies

to minimise water quality risks - SA Water

• assessment and mitigation options of blackwater

risk in the Murray River system - CSIRO

During the year, the Water Quality Advisory Panel

continued to meet quarterly, and when required

advice was provided to the River Murray Operations

Committee or Basin Officials Committee Alternates.

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60 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 4

Goal 4 Improve transparency and confidence in the Basin Plan

Role of the MDBA

The MDBA improves transparency and confidence

in the Basin Plan, River Murray operations and the

MDBA through:

• making information accessible, timely, relevant

and evidence-based

• being proactive and responsive to the interests

and needs of stakeholders

• improving partnerships and relationships with

Basin governments, industry, interest groups and

communities.

Desired outcomes

• Improved stakeholder awareness and

understanding of the Basin Plan and

River Murray operations

• Improved stakeholder awareness and

understanding of the MDBA’s role

• Accessible information on the Basin Plan, River

Murray operations and the MDBA

2020-21 key activities

• Develop, implement and manage stakeholder

engagement communications, education and

media support for key MDBA tasks and activities

• Maintain and expand regional presence and

engagement

• Support the Basin Community Committee

Source: Murray-Darling Basin Authority Corporate Plan 2020-21

Performance and analysis

Goal 4 has one key performance indicator (KPI):

KPi 6: Stakeholder awareness and understanding of the Basin Plan, River Murray operations and the MDBA’s role

Performance on KPI 6

Improved transparency and confidence in the Basin Plan, River Murray operations and the MDBA is critical to

securing the ongoing water reform that will deliver a healthy, working Basin for future generations.

The MDBA’s regional offices have increased the MDBA’s capacity to engage effectively with Basin communities.

An evaluation of the Regional Engagement Officers program during the year showed it has been highly

effective at providing two-way information sharing opportunities. The MDBA’s continuing support for the Basin

Community Committee ensures representation from communities across the Basin.

The MDBA’s greater regional footprint is enhancing its ability to engage face-to-face with Basin

communities and develop constructive relationships built on trust.

In 2020 the MDBA used this opportunity to implement a 3-tiered communications and engagement

approach that guides all engagement, communications and media activities. This approach has been

informed by the market research conducted by ORIMA Research during the year. The research:

• added to understanding about stakeholder knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions

• provided a solid base of evidence on which to further refine and optimise the approach.

The broader, scientifically rigorous market research program conducted by ORIMA Research across water

licence holders and Basin communities has subsumed the MDBA’s stakeholder survey for 2020-21. This

approach was considered to be appropriate in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2017, the

MDBA has committed to conducting a stakeholder survey every 3 years and comparing results to the baseline

established in 2018. As the breakdown of surveyed groups in the 2020-21 research did not align precisely to

the MDBA’s 2018 stakeholder survey, the 2021 results are more appropriately compared to the results of the

previous market research program undertaken by ORIMA Research in 2018.

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62 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 4

Table 10: Performance against targets for Goal 4, KPI 6

KPI Measure Target Result

KPi 6: Stakeholder awareness and

understanding of the Basin Plan,

River Murray operations and the

MDBA’s role

6.1 Awareness and understanding of the

Basin Plan and River Murray operations

based on the MDBA stakeholder survey

(every 3 years)

5% increase on

2018 results

Substantially met

Basin Plan

awareness: 67%

as compared to

56% in 2018

River Murray

operations

awareness: Direct

comparison data

not available

6.2 Awareness and understanding of

the MDBA’s role based on the MDBA

stakeholder survey (every 3 years)

5% increase on

2018 results

Met

73% as compared

to 57% in 2018

6.3 The MDBA delivers stakeholder

engagement activities that improve

stakeholder awareness and

understanding of the Basin Plan, River

Murray operations and MDBA’s role

Qualitatively

assessed

through case

study

Met as shown

by River

Management

Transparency

Plan case study

Stakeholders better understand the Basin Plan and River Murray operations

The 2020 ORIMA Research study observed that 67%

of Basin community members and nearly 100% of

water licence holders had heard of the Murray-Darling

Basin Plan - an increase from comparative 2018 data.

Compared to awareness of the Basin Plan,

awareness around River Murray operations and

water management was slightly lower. Only 66%

of surveyed Basin community members and 73%

of water licence holders were aware that water in

the Basin is managed in partnership between the

Australian, state and territory and local governments.

Research showed there was limited active

information-seeking from key stakeholder groups.

The MDBA is committed to leading a proactive and

coordinated approach with water management

agencies to reach and engage the diverse audiences

of the Basin.

This includes developing the River Management

Transparency Plan to increase trust, transparency,

awareness and understanding of water management

(see the Case study: River Murray transparency

improvements project).

Basin Plan 2020 Evaluation - Recommendation 6

Basin governments and the MDBA need

to work in partnership with industry, First

Nations and other water users to ensure

water information is more accessible,

understandable and timely, in order to create

a more transparent, effective, practical

operating environment for water users.

https://www.mdba.gov.au/basin-plan/

monitoring-evaluation/2020-basin-plan-evaluation/strengthening-social-economic-outcomes

Stakeholders better understand the MDBA’s role

In 2018, 57% of survey respondents reported being

aware of 4 key facts about the MDBA’s role and

involvement in the operation of the River Murray

system. While the 2020 market research took a

different approach and a comparable statistic is not

available, research participants were presented with

a list of organisations that deal with water in the

Murray-Darling Basin and asked which they were

aware of. The results - that 65% of Basin community

and 90% of water licence holders were aware of the

MDBA - were higher than any other organisation in

the list, and provide indirect evidence of improved

stakeholder understanding of the MDBA’s role in

operation of the River Murray system.

In a smaller survey of stakeholders from

representative bodies in the Basin, participants were

asked to consider the statement: To what extent do

you feel you understand the roles and responsibilities

of [the MDBA] in relation to water? They were

asked to provide a rating from 0 (not at all) to 10

(completely). The average rating across the group

was 8.3 out of 10.

An improved understanding of the roles and

responsibilities of government entities across

the Basin is a key information need stakeholders

identified. This is an important area to address

to build a shared understanding and improve

transparency.

Stakeholder awareness is improved through MDBA engagement activities

There is both quantitative and qualitative evidence

that the MDBA’s engagement activities have

improved stakeholder awareness during 2020-21.

The support for existing regional programs, as well

as new initiatives such as Authority Chair Sir Angus

Houston’s listening tours, has enhanced the regional

engagement that is key to building stakeholder

knowledge and awareness. During his 7 listening

and learning tours across the Basin, Sir Angus

has met with hundreds of landholders, irrigators,

First Nations people, representatives from partner

agencies and community groups, while complying

with COVID-safe requirements.

The MDBA has continued to build and maintain

relationships with First Nations and representative

bodies (MLDRIN and NBAN). This takes place through:

• liaising, educating and coordinating with business

areas to ensure that First Nations issues are

considered in all aspects of the MDBA’s work

• working with other government agencies to

provide advice and coordination activities

with First Nations organisations

• improving First Nations governance and

water literacy.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the growing

sophistication of the MDBA’s virtual engagements

has attracted new audiences.

• The new river management webinar series gives

the community an opportunity to learn more

about water management in the Murray-Darling

and ask questions of the MDBA team. There have

been more than 600 attendees to the River Murray

Webinar Series, and 127,374 unique visitors to the

water management section of the MDBA website

(https://www.mdba.gov.au/water-management).

• Ongoing improvements to the website, with

publication of new pages including the Water

Management 101 resources, have resulted in

an increase in traffic over the 3-year rolling

average of 25%.

+9.06% Change against the previous period

WEBSITE TRAFFIC UNIQUE PAGE VIEWS

1,098,449 3-year rolling average 2018-19 to 2020-21

THIS PERIOD

998,975 3-year rolling average 2017-18 to 2019-20

PREVIOUS PERIOD

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64 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 4

• The 6-month Southern Basin Panels pilot project

consisted of 9 virtual engagement activities for

each of 3 pilot groups (up to 20 members) in the

southern Basin. All activities were independently

facilitated by a third party, providing informative

and interactive discussions between the panel

participants and their chosen subject matter experts.

Similarly, the MDBA has been growing its social

media presence so that it now has:

• 1,330 more LinkedIn followers (up 59% to 3,530)

• 640 more Facebook followers (up 7.3% to 9,540)

• 200 more Twitter followers (up 3.5% to 5,900).

Physical and virtual gatherings engage many

stakeholders who would otherwise be unable to

attend forums and conferences.

• The MDBA hosted the inaugural River Reflections

conference in Griffith, New South Wales on

9 to 10 June 2021. It provided a forum for

the diverse communities and industries of the

Murray-Darling Basin to come together and share

innovations in water management, knowledge

and lessons learned.

• As part of the Capacity Policy Working Group

(including state counterparts from New South

Wales, Victoria, and South Australia) the MDBA

presented more than 35 online and face-to-face

sessions from February to April 2021. These

sessions provided updates to stakeholders in the

southern Basin about the investigations to date

and principles for the management of shortfall

risk. The sessions followed the publication

of the report Managing Delivery Risks in the

River Murray System.

• The MDBA hosted the Basin Climate Resilience

Summit, an opportunity for leaders across

31 participating organisations to share their

climate adaptation knowledge and innovations.

• The MDBA holds online Peak Groups Briefings

3 times a year on behalf of all Commonwealth

water agencies. These briefings share updates,

seek information from and test ideas with

more than 30 peak groups representing Basin

stakeholders. The forums also provide an

opportunity for peak representatives to share

what is important to them and ask questions

about water management and reform.

There’s also been greater engagement with the

media. During 2020-21 the MDBA has provided

group and one-on-one briefings on water

management issues and comprehensive sessions on

key water management topics including the Basin

Plan 2020 evaluation, Menindee Lakes and the

sediment build-up in the Barmah Choke.

The MDBA also maintains key international

engagements that enhance the MDBA’s access to

the latest global research and practices, and shares

the MDBA’s knowledge with international water

agencies. During 2020-21 MDBA staff met with the

New Zealand High Commission and Sir Mark Solomon,

a former Maori tribal leader, to share knowledge on

water management and indigenous partnerships.

The MDBA also supported a range of international

partners online including in Germany and India.

With the 2020 market research results continuing to

emphasise the need for foundational knowledge as

a basis for further information, the MDBA has been

working with younger Australians. The MDBA:

• partnered with Petaurus Education Group to

deliver Basin-themed classroom workshops and

lessons to 421 students and 142 teachers, as well

as more than 50 hours of professional learning

activities to equip staff with better knowledge

and resources for teaching about the Basin

• initiated the pilot Basin Heroes education program

to schools in 5 regional office locations. This

program, which will be delivered across the 2021

calendar year, facilitates connections between

schools and their communities and empowers

students to develop research projects on local

Basin issues. These projects will be published as

lasting education resources for their school’s use

and will help to build understanding by students,

their families, and the wider communities.

Case study: River Murray transparency improvements project

As stakeholders across the Basin adapt to new

trends in water use and new policies, clear,

consistent and meaningful information about

river management in the Basin needs to be made

available. This will support the program of changes

aiming to modernise how the River Murray

system is operated. It is also part of the MDBA’s

response to the Australian public’s declining trust in

government, institutions and scientific processes.

The MDBA‘s River Management Transparency Plan

aims to:

• build trust in and support for ongoing

water reform

• improve stakeholder understanding of water

management

• help water users access information to plan and

manage their business.

The MDBA is working with relevant Basin state

governments and Commonwealth agencies to

develop this plan. It involves coordinating and

amplifying consistent and effective messaging,

including a broad narrative on river management

and its history, along with targeted communication

and engagement on specific topics.

So far, the MDBA has:

• published 11 editions of the Flows in the River

Murray System update, issued monthly, and all

available on the MDBA website

• published the River Operations Weekly Report,

which has had 10,884 unique viewers during

2020-21

• expanded the Water Management 101 series

of resources with 2 extra topics - special

accounting and seasonal irrigation trends and

the  Murray-Darling Basin Agreement

• hosted 5 successful public webinars with

deliverability and capacity issues explained.

These were attended by more than 600 people

and had 1,454 unique page views on the

relevant web page

• increased the transparency of the Independent

River Operations Review Group (IRORG)

through publishing the IRORG Review of River

Operations, annual report, and new website

content

• held more stakeholder briefings and engaged

extensively on capacity and deliverability issues

across the southern Basin

• developed and published 17 new pages of

web content on unregulated flows, flood

management, erosion of the Barmah Choke

and flow contributions from the Darling part

of an updated River Murray website section.

This section has had 111,886 unique visitors

between July 2020 and May 2021

• had a large increase in the number of phone

enquiries fielded by the River Operations team

since the plan’s launch.

These and future measures are designed to make

river management information accessible, timely,

relevant and evidence-based. By meeting their

needs and interests it aims to foster stronger

partnerships with key stakeholder groups across

the Basin.

CASE STUDY

Goal 4 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 65

66 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 5

Goal 5 Apply the best available science and knowledge to the management of the Murray-Darling Basin

Role of the MDBA

The MDBA collects and collates the best available

data, knowledge and analysis to inform its

decisions, and uses this information to guide the

implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting

of the Basin Plan.

Desired outcomes

• Evidence-based policy and decision-making

founded upon robust and defensible data

• The MDBA has a deep understanding of the social,

economic, cultural, hydrological and ecological

conditions of the Murray -D arling Basin

• The MDBA collaborates and cooperates

with external partners to generate data and

knowledge, which is then managed appropriately

2020-21 key activities

• Complete the 2020 Basin Plan Evaluation Report

• Coordinate and fund research through the

Murray-Darling Water and Environment

Research Program

• Liaise with stakeholders regarding MDBA

data and knowledge requirements, including

committees such as the Advisory Committee on

Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences

• Contribute to the Basin Science Platform

• Implement the Land and Ecosystem

Accounting Program

• Undertake climate adaptation planning

• Publish report under the Water (Indigenous

Values and Uses) Direction 2018 under section

175 of the Water Act

• Ensure best available science is applied

to legislated reviews, evaluations and the

management of risks (for example, fish deaths

and drought)

• Share the right technical and scientific

information across the MDBA at the right time

to input into key decisions

• Plan and develop enhanced data and information

communications technology systems, processes

and frameworks

• Provide more efficient data storage, access

and retrieval

Source: Murray-Darling Basin Authority Corporate Plan 2020-21

Performance and analysis

Goal 5 has 2 key performance indicators:

KPi 7: Leverage the MDBA’s deep understanding of environmental, social, cultural and economic

considerations to make robust and defensible decisions

KPi 8: Collaborate and cooperate with Basin governments and other external stakeholders to share

knowledge, collect data and manage it appropriately

Performance on KPI 7

The importance of science and knowledge as the basis for decision-making in the Basin has been

emphasised in many reviews and assessments of the Basin Plan implementation. In the context of a

changing climate and often conflicting demands, equitable and sustainable use of the Basin’s resources can

only be possible through collaboration and access to the best information. Substantiating decisions with solid

data builds trust with Basin communities and improves transparency about water management decisions.

The MDBA draws on advice from advisory committees such as the Basin Community Committee and the

Advisory Committee for Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences (ACSEES). Better engagement with

First Nations ensures their knowledge is integrated into water management, including through the co-design of

some science projects.

During 2020-21 the publication of The Basin Plan 2020 Evaluation provided an opportunity to report,

evaluate and re-set where needed.

Table 11: Performance against targets for Goal 5, KPI 7

KPI Measure Target Result

KPi 7: Leverage the MDBA’s deep

understanding of environmental, social,

cultural and economic considerations to

make robust and defensible decisions

7.1 Environmental, social, cultural

and economic impacts are factored

into Authority decisions

Qualitatively

assessed

Met

7.2 The MDBA reports on the

social, economic, cultural,

hydrological, water quality and

ecological conditions of the

Murray-Darling Basin

Basin Plan

evaluation report

and Basin Plan

annual report

published

Met

Goal 5 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 67

68 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 5

Science and knowledge used to adapt to climate change

The MDBA has developed a climate workplan to

steer effort from 2021 to 2026 to work towards a

sustainable, productive, and resilient Murray-Darling

Basin under a changing climate.

The MDBA is using the Australian Government’s

Climate Compass (https://www.environment.gov.au/

system/files/resources/1f56cd3f-dd0f-4f4e-9f14-66ceca36125b/files/climate-compass-climate-risk-management-framework-commonwealth-agencies.

pdf) developed by the CSIRO to help government

agencies assess climate change risks. The CSIRO

has developed a number of river health metrics

and a range of scenarios representing future

climates. These metrics help to understand how

different climate scenarios will affect river health

and complements the science being done by Basin

state governments.

Basin state governments actively incorporate

climate change and adaption into on-ground water

management. They work collaboratively with the

MDBA, which has a Basin-wide role and considers

the long-term policy and water management settings.

The MDBA has started climate adaptation meetings

with Basin state partners, the CSIRO, ABARES and BoM.

Basin Plan 2020 Evaluation - Recommendation 11

Basin governments should prioritise higher

levels of continuing strategic investment in

science and monitoring. The new Australian

Government Murray-Darling Water and

Environment Research Program and the

Basin governments’ Science Platform provide

a much-needed foundation for an enduring

Basin science program. Any framework and

program of investment must be transparent

and embed continuous improvement. The

investment should also cement enduring

collaborative relationships between

researchers, communities and managers to

improve use of the best available science to

water management (https://www.mdba.gov.au/

basin-plan/monitoring-evaluation/2020-basin-plan-evaluation/advancing-science-monitoring)

River modelling used in decision-making

The 2020 Basin Plan Evaluation found that improving

science, monitoring and modelling is the key to

adaptive management of the Basin Plan. The further

development of the Source modelling platform

is needed to ensure that best-practice modelling

techniques are used. Source was built by the MDBA,

state governments and the eWater Cooperative

Research Centre and is now managed by eWater Ltd.

The Australian Government has made a commitment

for the MDBA to design an approach and potential

funding arrangements for a modelling uplift in

collaboration with Basin states. This is expected to

be the largest investment in Basin River modelling in

more than a decade.

The funding will be used to uplift all models into the

National Hydrological Modelling Platform (otherwise

known as ‘Source’) This will strengthen the Basin’s

river models to:

• assist with compliance, transparency and trust

• result in better water management decisions

• drive economic gains through an increase in

the availability of water information to Basin

communities and industries.

Basin Plan reports published

In December 2020, the MDBA published the

2020 Basin Plan Evaluation reports and all

scientific datasets used to inform the findings,

recommendations, and commitments. This material

is available on the MDBA website at: https://www.

mdba.gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/2020-basin-plan-evaluation-reports-data

The Basin Plan evaluation is an opportunity to assess

Basin Plan implementation and identify areas for

improvement. The 2020 Basin Plan Evaluation made

12 recommendations to facilitate improvements,

and the MDBA has committed to 6 priority areas

designed to increase collaboration. The Basin Plan

2020 Evaluation report drew from a wide range of

sources, including:

• the science community

• independent advisors

• the Australian Government

• Basin state and territory governments

• and various reviews, which included significant

community, First Nations and other stakeholder input.

In 2020, the MDBA published the Basin Plan 2020

Evaluation, which fulfilled the requirement to

produce the annual Basin Plan report. The annual

Basin Plan report sums up information from a variety

of other reports provided to the MDBA at the end

of the financial year to give a yearly update on the

progress of the Basin Plan. The MDBA has produced

a Basin Plan annual report each year since 2012 and

these reports are available on the MDBA website

at https://www.mdba.gov.au/basin-plan/basin-plan/

basin-plan-annual-report

First Nations participation in environmental watering report published

The Water (Indigenous Values and Uses) Direction

2018 requires the MDBA to annually publish a report

on how First Nations’ values and water uses are

considered in the planning and delivery of water for

the environment in the Basin.

In December 2020 the MDBA published First

Nations People participation in environmental water

2019-20 (https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/

mdba-reports/first-nations-people-participation-environmental-watering).

The report covers the water year of 2019-20.

Information in the report came from the Northern

Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN), the Murray Lower

Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN), the

CEWO and Basin state governments.

The report is part of the work of government

agencies to improve engagement and reporting on

First Nations’ involvement in managing water for

the environment in the Basin. It reflects that water

is an important part of First Nations’ culture and

livelihood. A companion document, Rivers, Veins of

our country, provides more detail through a series of

case studies.

First Nations’ environmental water guidance was

included in the Basin annual environmental watering

priorities for the first time in 2019-20. Basin-scale

outcomes were identified by First Nations groups

through the First Nations Environmental Water

Guidance project (FNEWG). The aim of this project

was to include First Nations’ objectives and priorities

into the Basin-scale environmental watering planning

on an annual basis. Funding enabled 32 Nations

from the northern and southern Basin to use their

cultural knowledge to identify important animals

and vegetation, as well as the timing and scale of

the flows needed across the Basin to support them.

The MDBA will work with First Nations groups to

develop an enduring mechanism to reflect these

outcomes through the next update of the Basin-wide

environmental watering strategy.

Fred Hooper, Chair of NBAN said:

‘The 2020−21 watering year will, for the first time in history, see First Nations’ environmental watering objectives acknowledged and incorporated into environmental water management at a federal level. This is a significant step forward.’

Goal 5 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 69

70 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 5

Performance on KPI 8

Table 12: Performance against targets for Goal 5, KPI 8

KPI Measure Target Result

KPi 8: Collaborate and cooperate with

Basin governments and other external

stakeholders to share knowledge, collect

data and manage it appropriately

8.1 Collaborate and cooperate with

research institutions and other external

entities to collect data and share

knowledge

Qualitatively

assessed

Met

8.2 MDBA has a data management

framework that is applied for business

needs

Qualitatively

assessed

Substantially

met

Murray-Darling Water and Environment Research Program enhances knowledge of Basin

The MDBA collaborates with the Basin states,

research community and relevant government

agencies on a range of projects that contribute data

and knowledge.

For example, the Murray-Darling Water and

Environment Research Program (MD-WERP) is funded

through the Department of Agriculture, Water and the

Environment (DAWE) and administered by the MDBA

in collaboration with DAWE and the Commonwealth

Environmental Water Office. Due to be completed in

June 2025, it is designed to contribute to scientific

knowledge of the Basin. This will help inform water

and environment management decisions and improve

outcomes for the Basin and communities.

During the year, 2 consortia were selected through a

tender process to form the Murray-Darling Water and

Environment Research Consortium:

• a CSIRO-led group with collaborators from

Deakin University, eWater with inputs from BoM,

Alluvium Consulting, Aither, Monash University,

Newcastle University, University of Queensland,

University of Canberra, University of NSW.

• a La Trobe University-led group with collaborators

from Griffith University , NB AN , MLDRIN and the

Institute for Development of Environmental-

Economic Accounting (IDEEA) Group.

First Nations are at the centre of the MD-WERP.

Program administration has ensured that MLDRIN

and NBAN are research partners with both consortia,

positioning them to advise on research scope

and refer researchers to networks and project

opportunities that contribute to valid results. Better

inclusion of First Nations’ knowledge relating to

environmental outcomes and climate change, as

well as progressing socioeconomic benefits from

cultural flows, are key areas of interest. The MDBA

and its research partners are working within Nation

capacity to engage, with consideration to the impacts

of COVID-19, and many the competing demands on

MLDRIN and NBAN delegates’ time.

Research work in the strategic area, which applies

research across the 4 theme areas, will start early

in the 2021-22 financial year. Also starting in

mid-2021 is a project examining the causes of

reduced flow in the northern Basin and a project

aiming to increase capacity to understand trends in

waterbird populations.

Collaborations build data and knowledge

In 2020-21 key collaborations were with:

• the CSIRO, in a partnership to deliver the

Ecosystem Functions Project. This 3-year

research project aims to improve knowledge on

the relationship between flow and ecosystem

functions such as longitudinal and lateral

connectivity, habitat, biological movement

and productivity.

• the University of NSW Centre for Ecosystem

Science, to better understand waterbird

requirements in the Basin. The first project

involves identifying the characteristics

(vegetation, inundation and flow data) of

waterbird breeding sites in the Murray -Darling

Basin. The second project involves analysing

long-term survey data to support a review of the

expected outcomes for different climate scenarios,

and to identify Basin-significant waterbird sites

and their contribution to the expected outcomes

under different climate scenarios. Outcomes of

the research will inform the next Basin-wide

environmental watering strategy.

• the University of Adelaide, to undertake

monitoring and analysis of the native southern

pygmy perch. These analyses compared hatch

rate, age and life span to previous years to better

understand the relationship between southern

pygmy perch breeding and flow pulses in the

Lower Lakes.

• the ANU and University of Adelaide, to explore

the use of drone technology and Sentinel-2 to

assess riparian vegetation. This project pilots and

explores the application and use of unmanned

drone and Sentinel-2 (10 m) imagery to assess

the extent and condition of lignum and riparian

vegetation at a key Murray-Darling Basin site.

• streamology geomorphologists, to investigate and

understand sediment transport, movement and

origin through the Barmah Choke.

• Rivers and Wetlands principal, Dr Darren Baldwin,

to quantify risks and potential contaminant loads

to the Upper Murray and Lake Hume following

heavy rainfall in bushfire affected catchments.

This was generating runoff with high loads of

sediment and debris and continuing to cause

water quality issues in local streams and rivers,

Lake Hume and further downstream.

• SA Water, through ongoing engagement with

archaeological, natural, geological, ecological

and vegetation expertise to assist with land

management and cultural heritage conservation

at Lake Victoria.

• DAWE, on the Land and Ecosystem Accounting

Program, a study at Gunbower-Koondrook-

Pericoota (GKP) Forest icon site. By building

ecosystem accounts for 2010 and 2015 the study

improves understanding of the health of the

environment and the flow-on economic costs and

benefits to people.

The MDBA has also established stronger partnerships

with research and policy institutes such as:

• the Goyder Institute through their new research

hub. The research hub aims to increase resilience

and management of the Coorong, Lower Lakes,

Murray Mouth system including environmental,

economic, social, and cultural, working alongside

communities, First Nations, researchers, and

governments.

• the proposed One Basin Cooperative Research

Centre, which is a focused collaboration

developing policy, technical and financial

solutions to support and reduce exposure to

climate, water and environmental threats in

the Basin. The MDBA have agreed to be Tier 1

partners of One Basin if it is successful in the

cooperative research centre process.

• the recently established Watertrust Australia, an

independent policy centre focused on helping

improve the way decisions are made about water

and catchments across Australia.

Goal 5 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 71

72 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Goal 5

MDBA strengthens partnerships with Basin First Nations

The MDBA engages with First Nations in the Basin

through both formal and informal arrangements.

Formal arrangements include attendance at MLDRIN

and NBAN meetings. Core funding is provided for

MLDRIN and NBAN, including funding for cultural

flow officers and other fee-for-service activities. The

MDBA also meets with representatives of individual

Nations to discuss on-country issues.

There are also regular meetings of the

Interdepartmental Committee on Aboriginal

Engagement, which consists of Australian

Government agencies as well as meetings with

Aboriginal engagement teams of the Basin states.

COVID-19 movement restrictions have affected all

engagement activities. Face-to-face engagement was

limited throughout 2020 but increased in 2021. The

focus is on relationship building and looking towards

the 2026 Basin Plan review.

The MDBA is developing a set of guidelines for the

use of administrative data (for example census,

Commonwealth-funded programs) relating to First

Nations. The framework refers to national and

international standards for First Nations’ knowledge

interests, to ensure that First Nations in the Basin

share control with the MDBA of the choice of

monitoring indicators, secondary data access and

uses of that data that relate to their interests.

MDBA’s data management framework meets business needs

The MDBA’s activities and collaborations with

external partners generate a significant amount of

data and knowledge. This information is used to

inform decision-making, so it is essential that it is

stored and managed in a way that enables timely

access and retrieval. The data management team

liaises with MDBA business areas and committees

to make sure their data and knowledge requirements

are being met.

The MDBA uses an enterprise data management

framework to manage the data and knowledge. It

is based on the principles of the Data Management

Body of Knowledge (DMBoK) and adapted to best

fit the MDBA’s needs. The framework includes

analytical capabilities that support the MDBA’s

ability to deliver major projects including this year’s

Basin Plan Evaluation. It also enables the MDBA to

have access to information that allows it to develop

strategies to deal with changing situations, such as

climate conditions across the Basin.

In 2020-21 the framework was assessed by the

outsourced internal audit function as part of the

2020-21 Internal Audit Plan. The internal audit

provided an assessment of the effectiveness of the

framework in meeting the MDBA’s business needs

and associated risks. The maturity assessment

resulted in several recommendations that have

been accepted.

Agreed management actions resulting from the

audit include:

• improving the design and approach in applying

the data framework

• developing a change management plan to support

framework implementation

• assigning an executive group with oversight

responsibilities to support data management

initiatives.

The ICT, Data and Support Services group had also

planned to do a case study, based on informal

interviews, to assess how the Data Management

Framework had improved results for MDBA business

areas. This didn’t happen due to other priorities:

• 2 significant programs of work - the SDL

Accounting Uplift and the Hydrometric Network

and Remote Sensing Program

• demands on resources related to remote

working arrangements due to the continuing

COVID pandemic.

As part of the new governance structure, the

work previously done by the Information

Management and Technology Committee (IMTC) is

now part of the Program Board’s responsibilities.

This ensures the MDBA’s information and technology

needs are considered as an essential part of

organisational capability.

Looking ahead to 2021-22

Operating context

The challenges of the 2020-21 year, with climate

emergencies and the COVID-19 pandemic, affected

not only the Murray-Darling Basin but also the

way the MDBA carried out its work. Like other

organisations, it had to adapt to new ways of

working, while continuing to communicate effectively

with stakeholders all over the Basin. The MDBA’s

ongoing regionalisation policy and its investment

in high-level data and information technology

systems meant that it was well placed to meet these

challenges during the year and into the future.

While the Bureau of Meteorology predicts that

most of Australia will have above-average rainfall

between July and October 2021, longer-term trends

show that there will be less water in the Basin. CSIRO

data shows that over the last 20 years there’s been a

huge fall in inflows across the Murray-Darling Basin.

The 2020 Basin Plan Evaluation showed that

improved knowledge is needed to understand and

respond to changing conditions in the Basin over

time. Basin governments will need to collaborate and

invest more in science and monitoring. Improving

modelling is seen as a way to build confidence and

understanding and help with planning for the future.

Less water, changing conditions and often conflicting

interests mean that Basin communities can lose trust

in the Basin Plan. Some states have already indicated

the water-saving projects they committed to under the

Basin Plan won’t be finished by the 2024 deadline.

The Sefton report (https://www.mdba.gov.au/

publications/independent-reports/independent-assessment-social-economic-conditions-basin)

released in September 2020 found that in many

areas of the Basin communities no longer felt

confident about their future.

The MDBA is focusing on boosting collaboration

and transparency about water management to reset

stakeholder confidence. As a further way to increase

transparency in decision-making, the MDBA’s

compliance functions will shift to the new

Inspector-General of Water Compliance.

Priorities

The focus on communities is a clear priority for the

next year. The MDBA is committed to working with

communities to share information and incorporate

local knowledge into the Basin Plan implementation.

Improving the opportunities and involvement of

First Nations continues to be a priority. The biggest

barrier for First Nations engagement is access to and

availability of water. Funding for 4 Indigenous River

Ranger groups in the Murray-Darling Basin is one of

the initiatives to improve First Nations involvement.

An important area of work will be to work with

stakeholders to develop an approach for the 2026

Basin Plan Review.

The MDBA continues to undertake work associated

with the Keelty report’s (https://www.igwc.gov.au/

reviews-reports) recommendations, particularly on

increasing transparency and accessibility of water

management information.

The Basin Plan 2020 Evaluation (https://www.mdba.

gov.au/2020-basin-plan-evaluation) identified 6 future

focus areas for Basin governments and stakeholders:

• continuing to implement the Basin Plan with a

‘one Basin’ approach

• adapting to climate change and increasing

resilience

• establishing a clearer and committed pathway for

improved First Nations outcomes

• strengthening social and economic outcomes through

targeted support for communities in the Basin

• integrating water management with other

activities to achieve environmental restoration

• advancing science and monitoring.

While the MDBA retains responsibility for overseeing

implementation of the Basin Plan, the MDBA’s regulatory

and compliance responsibilities are now with the

Office of the Inspector-General of Water Compliance.

For further details about priorities, see the

MDBA Corporate Plan 2021-22.

Looking ahead to 2021-22 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 73

03

Part 3

Management and accountability

Governance 76

Organisational structure 83

Corporate accountability 88

People and culture 99

Governance

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (the 7-member Authority) was established under the Water Act 2007 which sets out how the water resources of the Murray-Darling Basin are to be managed.

Water in the Basin is managed in a cooperative

arrangement between the Australian Government

and the governments of the Basin states - New South

Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and the

Australian Capital Territory. The Basin Plan provides

the overview to ensure that water is shared between

all users in a sustainable way.

The 7-member Authority is supported by the

Murray-Darling Basin Authority (the MDBA),

an independent Australian Government agency.

Figure 16 shows governance arrangements.

Australian Government water minister

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority reports to the

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia,

the Hon Keith Pitt. As the Australian Government

water minister, Mr Pitt also chairs the

Murray-Darling Ministerial Council and, under

the Water Act, can direct the Authority on how it

performs its functions.

Figure 16: Governance arrangements

76 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Governance

The Authority

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (the Authority)

is made up of a part-time Chair, full-time Chief

Executive, and 5 part-time members, including

an Indigenous member. The passing of the Water

Amendment (Indigenous Authority Member) Bill

on 3 October 2019 established the permanent

Indigenous Authority member position on the Board.

This increased the board from 6 to 7 members.

Members of the Authority are appointed for their

skills and experience in areas including water

resource management, governance, policy, the

environment, community and Indigenous matters. In

response to the outcomes of the Compliance Compact

2018 the Australian Government committed to

review the Authority appointments process to ensure

that a broad range of experience is considered as

part of the selection process to appoint Authority

members. In July 2019 the Ministerial Council

agreed to a new appointment process with an aim

to streamline the existing process and increase

transparency of the appointments.

Their performance is measured by the outcomes

of the Basin Plan, with the Audit Committee

and the Independent Assurance Committee (IAC)

providing additional assurance. The Authority has

3 formal advisory committees and takes advice

from the MDBA on Basin-wide strategy and policy

and planning. It collaborates with, and also takes

advice from, the Department of Agriculture, Water

and the Environment (DAWE), the Commonwealth

Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) and Basin

jurisdictions, as well as receiving advice from

Basin communities, industry, environmental groups

and other government organisations (including

the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian

Competition and Consumer Commission) to secure

Basin water resources. Regular briefings from these

groups ensure the Authority’s decision making is

robust and well informed.

As at 30 June 2021 the members of the

Authority were:

• Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC

(Ret’d) - Chair

• Professor Stuart Bunn - member

• Ms Joanna Hewitt AO - member

• Ms Susan Madden - member

• Mr Rene Woods - Indigenous member

• Mr Phillip Glyde - Chief Ex ecutive.

There is one vacancy.

Figure 17: Members of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (L to R: Rene Woods, Joanna Hewitt (seated), Stuart Bunn, Susan Madden (seated), Sir Angus Houston, Phillip Glyde

Governance | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 77

78 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Governance

Authority members

Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus

Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d) is

Chancellor of the University

of the Sunshine Coast

and chairs many boards

including the Authority. He

was awarded the Knight

of the Order of Australia

in 2015 for outstanding

service to Australia. Sir Angus served for 41 years in

the Australian Defence Force including holding the

positions of Chief of the Australian Defence Force

from 2005 to 2011 and Chief of the Air Force.

Professor Stuart Bunn is

Director of the Australian

Rivers Institute at Griffith

University, Chair of the

Science Committee for

Healthy Land and Water,

and a member of the

International Planning

Committee for the

Sustainable Water Future Programme. From 2008

to 2012 he was a National Water Commissioner. He

has served as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel

for the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum and the

MDBA’s ACSEES, on which he continues to play an

observer role.

Ms Joanna Hewitt AO chairs

the Scientific Advisory

Group of the Department

of Agriculture, Water and

Environment. She has

worked at senior levels in

the Australian Public Service

including Secretary of the

Department of Agriculture,

Fisheries and Forestry from 2004 to 2007 and

Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign

Affairs and Trade. She was Commission Chair of

ACIAR from 2011 to 2014 and has worked at the

OECD and consulted internationally.

Ms Susan Madden is

Principal Economist with

international consulting

firm GHD. She is Chair of

the Central West Local Land

Services and sits on the

Local Land Services Board

of Chairs. Ms Madden has

a background in family

farming and extensive experience working in

agricultural and natural resource management roles

in the public and private sectors. Her leadership

capabilities and contributions have been recognised

through a number of awards. She is a Fellow of the

Peter Cullen Trust.

Mr Rene Woods is a

Nari Nari man from Hay

in south-west NSW. He

has extensive experience

in the management of

Aboriginal culture, heritage

and natural resources. He

is a conservation officer

with Nature Conservancy

Australia and has previously been Chair of the

Murray Lower Darling Indigenous Nations and

Vice-Chair of the Nari Tribal Council.

Mr Phillip Glyde came

to the MDBA from the

Department of Agriculture,

where he was a deputy

secretary. He has been a

member of the Australian

Public Service since 1980,

working in natural resource

management, industry and

environmental policies for a number of departments.

Mr Glyde has also worked overseas with the OECD in

Paris and the Department of Environment, Food and

Rural Affairs in the United Kingdom.

Read more details about the Authority on the MDBA

website at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/about-us/

governance-water-management-murray-darling-basin/authority

Details of accountable authority during the reporting

period 2020-21 are in the Appendices.

Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority is accountable to

the Ministerial Council for matters under the Murray-

Darling Basin Agreement. The council’s key functions

and powers are:

• considering and determining policy outcomes

and objectives

• determining matters specified in the

Murray-Darling Basin Agreement

• approving the MDBA’s annual corporate plan,

budget and asset management plan

• agreeing to amendments to the Murray-Darling

Basin Agreement.

The Ministerial Council is made up of the Australian

Government minister responsible for water and the

ministers responsible for water from each Basin

jurisdiction. As at 30 June 2021, members were:

• Australian Government minister responsible

for water - the Hon Keith Pitt (Chair)

• New South Wales water minister -

the Hon Melinda Pavey MP

• Victorian acting water minister -

the Hon Richard Wynne MP

• South Australian water minister -

the Hon David Speirs MP

• Queensland water minister -

the Hon Glenn Butcher MP

• Australian Capital Territory water minister -

Mr Shane Rattenbury MLA.

Read more about the Ministerial Council at:

https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/murray-darling-basin-ministerial-council

Basin Officials Committee

The Basin Officials Committee (BOC) is established

under Part IV of the Murray-Darling Basin

Agreement. It is the peak body of Basin government

officials providing advice to decision-makers on all

Murray-Daring Basin matters.

The key functions and powers of the BOC are:

• to advise the Authority on engaging the Basin

states in preparing the Basin Plan and proposed

amendments to the Basin Plan

• to advise the Ministerial Council in relation to

major policy issues of common interest in relation

to the management of water and other natural

resources of the Basin

• to exercise responsibility for high level decision-making regarding river operations, including

setting objectives and outcomes to be achieved

by the MDBA

• to facilitate cooperation and coordination

between the Commonwealth, the Authority

and the Basin states in managing Basin water

resources.

The BOC consists of a senior official from each Basin

jurisdiction. It is chaired by the Commonwealth

member. The Authority’s Chief Executive is an

advisor to the BOC and is able to attend and

participate in BOC meetings, but does not have a

vote in meeting decisions.

In 2019 the structure of the BOC was revised

to include 4 standing and 3 time-bound ‘tier 1’

committees (see Figure 18).

As at 30 June 2021 the 6 members were:

• Commonwealth - Ms Lynn O’Connell (Chair)

• New South Wales - Mr Jim Bentley

• Victoria - Ms Helen Vaughan

• South Australia - Mr Ben Bruce

• Queensland - Mr David Wiskar

• Australian Capital Territory - Mr Geoffrey Rutledge.

Read more about the BOC at: https://www.mdba.gov.

au/about-us/governance/basin-officials-committee

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Basin Community Committee

The Basin Community Committee (BCC) gives

a community perspective on water resource

environmental, cultural and socioeconomic matters

in the Basin. It provides advice to the Authority

and Ministerial Council and engages with the BOC,

DAWE and Authority advisory committees. Members

come from all over the Basin (see Figure 19) and are

selected for their expertise or interest in relevant

areas. The committee meets up to 5 times a year,

either face-to-face or virtually, and is strongly valued

as a forum to provide advice to the MDBA and Basin

governments on water management issues.

As at 30 June 2021 members and their

locations were:

• Mr Phil Duncan (Chair) - Gwydir

• Mr Sam Coulton - Border Rivers

• Ms Amy Fay - Goulburn-Murr ay

• Mr Edward Fessey - Culgoa-Barwon-Darling

• Ms Rachel Kelly - mid-Murray and Murrumbidgee

• Ms Susan Madden (Authority member) - Dubbo

• Mr Neil Martinson - Riverland

• Mrs Samantha O’Toole - Lower Balonne

• Mrs Sandra Peckham - Bogan

• Mrs Sue Rudd - Sunraysia

• Mr David Thurley - upper Murray

• Mr Adrian Weston - Goulburn-Br oken.

Ms Emily Jenke (Lower Lakes) resigned from the BCC

in March 2021.

Read more about the BCC at:

https://www.mdba.gov.au/about-us/governance-water-management-murray-darling-basin/basin-community-committee

Figure 18: Structure of the Basin Officials Committee

Tier 1 - Standing committees Tier 1 - Time bound committees

Basin Officials Committee

Cth Chair (DAWE)

Murray-Darling Basin

Ministerial Council

BOC Alternates

Deputy BOC Chair

Joint Venture Budget and Perfomance

Cth Senior Exec Chair

River Murray Operations

Cth Senior Exec Chair

Environmental Water

MDBA Chair

Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism Implementation

Committee

Independent Chair

Northern Basin Project Committee

Commonwealth Chair

Capacity Policy Working Group

MDBA Chair

Advisory committees

Several independent committees provide specialist

advice to assist the Authority in making robust and

defensible decisions for the sustainable management

of the Basin’s resources.

Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences

The Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and

Environmental Sciences (ACSEES) gives the Authority

independent, strategic advice to help ensure the

implementation of the Basin Plan is supported by

robust methodology, science and knowledge.

It was established under section 203 of the Water

Act and consists of 7 members with expertise in

areas including economics, hydrology, ecology, water

governance and law, sociology and sustainable

systems. An important part of the committee’s work

is communicating science-related matters within

academic, community and industry networks.

As at 30 June 2021 ACSEES members were:

• Professor Rob Vertessy (Chair) - consultant

(Victoria)

• Professor Michael Stewardson - University

of Melbourne (Victoria)

• Professor Nick Bond - Latrobe University (Victoria)

Figure 19: Basin Community Committee members

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• Dr Rebecca Nelson - University of Melbourne

(Victoria)

• Professor Roger Stone - University of Southern

Queensland (Queensland)

• Professor Sue Jackson - Griffith University

(Queensland)

• Dr Neil Byron - consultant (Australian Capital

Territory)

• Professor Stuart Bunn - Authority member;

observer to ACSEES

• Steve Hatfield-Dodds - technical advisor

to ACSEES.

Read more about ACSEES member and the ACSEES

Communiques at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/about-us/

governance-water-management-murray-darling-basin/advisory-committee-social-economic

Compliance Independent Assurance Committee

The MDBA established the Independent Assurance

Committee (IAC) as a statutory committee in 2018

under section 203 of the Water Act. The committee

consists of 4 independent experts who provide

advice on the design, implementation and adequacy

of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Basin Plan

compliance program.

Among its other business the IAC provides advice

on the creation of a new compliance entity separate

from the MDBA, which was announced by the

Australian Government on 7 September 2020.

The new entity will combine the MDBA’s Office of

Compliance with the office of the Interim

Inspector-General of Water Compliance.

As at 30 June 2021 members of the IAC were:

• Mr Allan Holmes (Chair)

• Ms Lisa Corbyn

• Mr Garry Smith

• Mr Martin Dolan.

Read more about the committee’s areas of expertise

at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/basin-plan-roll-out/

compliance-enforcement/compliance-independent-assurance-committee

IAC’s reports are published on the MDBA’s website

at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/compliance-independent-assurance-commitee-reports

Organisational structure

The MDBA is structured to best allow it to achieve its purpose (see Figure 20). Chief Executive Phillip Glyde

leads an Executive Board comprised of the heads of the 4 work portfolios:

• Basin Strategy and Knowledge - which drives and facilitates science and decision support information that

guides river management and implementation of the Basin Plan

• Basin Plan Regulation - which is responsible for regulatory functions and includes the Office of Compliance

• River Management - which works with state and territory partners to coordinate the management of the

River Murray system under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement

• Business Services - which runs the business of the MDBA by providing strategic and support services.

The Executive Board role is to:

• approve the MDBA’s strategic direction

• approve risk mitigation strategies for projects and programs for all investments.

The enterprise Portfolio Management Office (ePMO) is at branch level but reports directly to the Chief

Executive. The ePMO supports prioritisation, visibility and accountability of the MDBA’s work. It was

implemented as part of the MDBA’s new operating model to support regionalisation.

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Senior Executive

River Management Andrew Reynolds Executive Director

Assets

Angus Paton General Manager

SDLAM Implementation Andrew Kremor General Manager

Business Services Annette Blyton Executive Director

Basin Plan Regulation Tim Goodes Executive Director

Basin Strategy & Knowledge Vicki Woodburn Executive Director

Portfolio Management Office Brent Williams General Manager

Water Resource Plan, Policy and Assessment Phil Alcorn General Manager, A/g

SDL Accounting & Aboriginal Partnerships Tony McLeod General Manager

Communications, Engagement and Strategic Policy Megan Winter General Manager

Office of Compliance Daniel Blacker General Manager

Legal & Government Relations Kelly Casey General Manager

Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting Audrey Van Beusichem General Manager

Phillip Glyde

Chief Executive

Figure 20: MDBA organisational structure as at 30 June 2021

MDBA Executive Board

The Executive Directors of each of the

4 portfolios make up the MDBA Executive Board.

Phillip Glyde

Chief Executive

Phillip’s biographical details are included in

The Authority.

Vicki Woodburn

Executive Director, Basin Strategy and Knowledge

Vicki joined the MDBA

leadership team in 2016.

She has over 20 years of

practical experience in

policy and applied science,

focused on Australia’s natural

resources, agricultural

industries, biosecurity and

regional development.

Before joining the MDBA, Vicki held technical and

leadership roles in the Rural Industries Research and

Development Corporation, private sector consulting

businesses and the Australian Government agricultural

department. In these roles, she led cross-sectoral

research in areas including soils, climate change, rural

policy, agricultural extension, digital innovations,

the primary industry health and safety. She has also

delivered high-profile policy reviews and undertaken

extensive stakeholder engagement.

Vicki has a Bachelor of Applied Science from the

Australian National University.

Andrew Reynolds

Executive Director, River Management

Andrew joined the MDBA

leadership team in 2013.

He has more than 27 years

of experience in the water

industry, managing major

water supply infrastructure.

Before joining the MDBA,

Andrew held various roles

with Goulburn-Murray Water.

His work there included managing the headworks

business responsible for 16 large dams and

associated infrastructure, delivering several major

dam safety upgrades, and leading the business’s

engineering and scientific resources.

Andrew has a Bachelor of Engineering (Agricultural)

(Hons) from the University of Melbourne. He is

the current chairman of the Australian National

Committee on Large Dams.

Tim Goodes

Executive Director, Basin Plan Regulation

Tim joined the MDBA

leadership team on 15 June

2020. Before commencing

in this role, Tim was the

Deputy Chief Executive of

the Department of Primary

Industries and Regions in

South Australia. He was

responsible for agriculture,

food and wine, regional development, major program

delivery and corporate services.

From 2009 to 2017 Tim was the Deputy Chief

Executive of the Department of Environment, Water

and Natural Resources in South Australia. In that

role, he was responsible for the policy and strategy

development of the department, including serving as

the Basin Official for South Australia, overseeing the

implementation of the Basin Plan and other major

water projects.

Tim came to natural resources management after

12 years in the Justice portfolio, in Courts and the

Attorney-General’s Department. This included time

as the Sheriff of South Australia and 3 years as an

executive director in the Department of the Premier

and Cabinet.

Tim has a Bachelor of Social Administration and a

Master of Public Policy and Administration.

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Annette Blyton

Executive Director, Business Services

Annette joined the MDBA

leadership team in 2017. She

has worked in a broad range

of corporate areas since

starting her public service

career in 1986. These

areas include corporate

and business management,

farm surveys, data, social

research, finance, property and major projects and

procurements.

From 2002 to 2012, Annette was Corporate

Manager for the Australian Bureau of Agriculture

and Resource Economics and Sciences. She then

joined the Office of the Commonwealth Director of

Public Prosecutions where she worked as National

Manager, People from 2012 to 2015. Annette

moved to the Department of Agriculture and Water

Resources in 2015, where she was responsible for

the department’s national property interests and a

range of other national business functions.

MDBA senior management boards and committees

The Executive Board is supported by boards and

committees that advise them on specific areas

(see Figure 21).

Program Board

The Program Board takes strategic direction from

the Executive Board. It oversees the planning and

implementation of approved MDBA programs and

projects. The Program Board has taken over the

work of the former Information Management and

Technology Committee.

The Board’s role is it to oversee the implementation

of approved portfolios, programs and projects. It

regularly takes advice about external issues from the

strategic policy group.

Capability Board

The Capability Board plans, develops and deploys

workforce capability. It informs the MDBA’s Portfolio

Management Office of strategic capability plans and

advises of gaps and resource requirements.

The Board’s role is to ensure the MDBA actively

develops, monitors and strengthens its capabilities so

that it can perform its functions.

Senior management committees

There are 4 senior management committees:

• Audit Committee

• Employee Consultative Committee

• Health and Safety Committee

• Strengthening Connections Committee.

There is one subcommittee - the Financial

Statements subcommittee.

The work of these committees is included in other

parts of this report and on the MDBA website.

Figure 21: MDBA governance structure

Leadership Connection Meeting (every 4 weeks)

Linkages and networking feedback from Executive Board

Membership:

CE, Executive Directors, General Managers (all) Senior Directors (all) Regional Managers (all)

Chief Executive Phillip Glyde

Executive Board

Membership: Phillip Glyde (Chair)

Andrew Reynolds Vicki Woodburn Annette Blyton Tim Goodes

Advisor: Brent Williams (PMO)

Capability Board Membership:

Vicki Woodburn (Chair)

Annette Blyton Brent Williams Andrew Kremor

Advisor: Cedelle Burroughs/ Corinne Fox

Meeting frequency Every 4-8 weeks

Program Board Membership:

Brent Williams (Chair)

General Managers: 9 x GM

Advisors: Rod Barlow, Harish Madan

Meeting frequency Every 4-8 weeks

Audit Committee (External Chair)

Financial Statements Subcommittee

Employee Consultative Committee

Work, Health & Safety Committee

Strengthening Connections Committee

Not a decision making forum

informal reporting

formal reporting

Meeting frequency Every 2 weeks

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Corporate accountability

Corporate governance practices

As a corporate Commonwealth entity, the MDBA

uses practices that enable it to meet objectives while

managing risk and using resources in an accountable

way. The MDBA’s planning, performance and

reporting framework is supported by policies and

guidelines and, where appropriate, external review.

The corporate plan is the key planning document,

setting out how the MDBA will achieve its purpose

through goals that have measurable targets. The

MDBA reports on its performance annually in the

annual report. A performance framework helps

individual staff and teams manage performance and

contribute to organisational goals.

The MDBA’s ability to achieve its goals and respond

to change relies on building organisational capability.

This is done through having strong values, good

leadership, a dynamic and flexible workforce, and

processes and systems that are regularly reviewed

and improved. Figure 22 shows the MDBA’s

capability strategy.

The MDBA has identified the need for a strong

regional presence and decentralised workforce as a

priority. Other strategies include:

• looking for ways to streamline governance

arrangements, such as using shared services

• building knowledge management and capability

through improving systems and practices

• enhancing financial and non-financial

performance measurement

• improving transparency through clear

communications, partnerships and engagement.

Figure 23 shows MDBA’s capability planning process.

Figure 22: MDBA capability strategy

Making it work

Applying our capabilities

The outcomes

Understanding and planning our capabilities

1. Capability 2. Workforce

4. Monitoring and improvement

3. Operations

Risk management

The MDBA’s approach to risk management is to foster

a positive risk culture and engage proactively with

risk at all levels of the organisation. This approach is

consistent with the Commonwealth Risk Management

Policy and the International Standard for Risk

Management (AS ISO 31000:2018) and is regarded as

best practice in practical management of risk.

Risk management framework

The MDBA reviews and updates the risk

management framework and policy every 2 years

and continually monitors and reviews risks, risk

controls and treatments. Progress against the

implementation of treatments is reported as required

to the Ministerial Council, Basin Officials Committee

and Audit Committee.

Risk management is integrated into MDBA planning

and business systems. Each business unit in the

organisation conducts environmental scanning as

part of its forward planning. This information feeds

into the MDBA Enterprise Risk Management Plan.

The MDBA’s risk appetite and tolerance for each

major business function is established in the Risk

Management Framework and Policy. The MDBA is

more tolerant of risk where positive engagement

with risk presents opportunities for innovation,

improvement and building capability and capacity.

It has a low appetite for fraud, work health and

safety risks and compliance risk impact.

The MDBA has identified at the enterprise level

those risks that interact with its strategic objectives.

These risks are identified from an analysis of the

sources of risk for the MDBA and evaluated against

the MDBA’s risk categories. This ensures risks are

fully visible across the business of the agency and

are appropriately treated.

The MDBA has also articulated several activity-based

sub-risks for key enterprise risks. This sits with an

analysis of all the causes of risk, critical controls and

an assessment of the effectiveness of those controls.

The approach:

• allows the MDBA to make informed decisions for

the allocation of resources for the management of

risk and the achievement of objectives

• enables MDBA personnel to have a clear line

of sight between their day-to-day work and

managing risk and the achievement of the overall

objectives of the MDBA.

As part of managing risk, all new employees and

contractors receive risk management induction

and online training in ethics, fraud and conflicts of

interest. This also includes managing sensitive water

market information.

• Who we are

• Current state

• Where we want to be

• How to get there

• Group initiatives

• Core skills

• Technical skills

• Gaps and risks

• Workforce planning

• Learning and development

• Surge demand

• Prioritisation of initiatives

Summary and insights

Capability planning Implementation

Growing and maintaining capability

Figure 23: MDBA capability planning

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Comcover

Comcover provides the MDBA’s insurance cover.

Insurable risks are identified and assessed annually

through Comcover’s insurance renewal process. The

MDBA is separately insured by Comcover for workers

compensation for employees.

Comcover conducts a benchmarking survey

biennially and it was conducted in the reporting

period. The Risk Management Benchmarking Program

is a key part of Comcover’s risk management

services. It is designed so fund members can assess

their current and target level of risk management

maturity against 5 identified areas of focus, using a

risk maturity model.

The 5 areas of focus for the risk maturity model are:

• risk governance

• risk culture

• risk capability

• risk management framework and practices

• organisational resilience and agility.

The MDBA performed well against each of the areas

of focus. Its strongest capability is in:

• risk management framework and practices

• organisational resilience and agility.

Fraud

The MDBA’s fraud control arrangements align with

the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework.

This framework establishes systems and processes

for preventing, detecting, monitoring, evaluating,

reporting and responding to fraud. The MDBA

regularly reviews its fraud prevention and control

measures, which include fraud risk assessment and

the fraud control plan.

In 2020-21, there were 3 reports of suspected fraud.

Preliminary inquiries showed no evidence of fraud to

warrant a formal investigation.

Business continuity and ICT disaster recovery plans

The MDBA has 4 main documents that outline

arrangements for recovering from a business

disruption:

• MDBA Business Continuity Plan

• MDBA Business Impact Analysis

• River Murray system emergency action plan

• ICT Disaster Recovery Plan.

Each plan is updated as required and at a minimum

annually. The ICT disaster recovery arrangements are

tested at desktop level.

As with the previous year, in 2020-21 the major

business continuity event was the MDBA response

to COVID-19. The ongoing response to COVID-19

presented the MDBA with a number of opportunities

to stress test and continuously improve its response

to disruptions caused by critical incidents and

other business continuity events. This particularly

related to the MDBA’s operating environment and

infrastructure. The MDBA demonstrated it was ahead

of the curve in planning and preparedness for the

pandemic across Australian Government entities.

Internal audit

Internal audit services were provided by PwC

in 2020-21. Internal audits were developed in

consultation with senior management and their

teams, having regard to the MDBA Enterprise Risk

Management Plan and the MDBA Assurance Strategy.

The internal audit reports finalised during the

year were:

• Data Management and Improvement Plans

• Water Quality Monitoring - Lessons Learned

• Management Initiated Review on ICT Logging

and Monitoring.

The audit reports did not raise any serious

matters. The implementation of internal audit

report recommendations is monitored by the

Audit Committee.

Compliance reporting

It is a requirement of the Public Governance,

Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act)

that the MDBA reports significant non-compliance

with finance law. Finance law includes:

• the PGPA Act

• the Public, Governance, Performance and

Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule)

• instruments made under the PGPA Act (including

Accountable Authority Instructions) and

Appropriation Acts.

The compliance reporting process helps to identify

and disclose instances of non-compliance with

the PGPA framework, as a basis for continuous

improvement.

There were no significant reportable breaches of the

PGPA Act, the PGPA Rule or Australian Government

policies in 2020-21.

Audit committee

The MDBA’s governance framework includes the

Audit Committee, which provides independent advice

and assurance. In keeping with s17(2) of the Public

Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule

2014 the Audit Committee reviews and gives advice

on the MDBA’s:

• financial reporting

• performance reporting

• system of risk oversight and management

• system of internal control.

Read the Audit Committee Charter on the MDBA’s

website at https://www.mdba.gov.au/sites/

default/files/attachments/Audit%20Committee%20

Charter%20-%20February%202020.pdf

Table 13 shows membership of the audit committee

and other required details.

Table 13: Audit Committee

Member name Qualifications, knowledge, skills or experience (include formal and informal as relevant)

Number of meetings attended/ total number of meetings

Total annual remuneration (GST inc.)

Additional information

Mrs Jenny Morison

FCA (Chair)

Independent

member

Jenny has 38 years of experience in the

accounting, commerce and government.

She was a National Board Member of the

Chartered Accountants of Australia and New

Zealand for 4 years. Jenny was the CFO of a

public company and has held senior positions

in the major international accounting firms.

She founded Morison Consulting Pty Limited

in 1996. Jenny originally specialised in

implementation of Commonwealth financial

reforms and then project managed significant

process reform projects in the Department

of Defence. She was awarded a Centenary

medal in 2000 for services to accounting.

For the last 15 years, Mrs Morison has become

one of the most experienced independent

member and Chair of Commonwealth audit

and risk committees. Her current portfolio of

agencies covers 45% of the total spend of the

Australian Government. 

6/6 $23,100.00 N/A

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Member name Qualifications, knowledge, skills or experience (include formal and informal as relevant)

Number of meetings attended/ total number of meetings

Total annual remuneration (GST inc.)

Additional information

Ms Karen Hogan

(Deputy Chair)

Independent

member

Over the past 10 years, Karen has

contributed as a member of several

audit committees in various Australian

Government agencies, including chairing

the audit committee in one agency. Karen

has extensive leadership experience in

accounting, finance, corporate governance,

risk, procurement, information technology

and human resources. This experience

encompasses both the public and private

sectors and has been gained in such diverse

areas as the cultural institutions, regulation,

manufacturing, energy, farming, tourism and

fast-moving consumer products. Areas of

interest are improving financial literacy, the

exploitation of technology and improving

corporate governance in an efficient and

effective manner.

6/6 $7,201.02 N/A

Mr Andrew Cox

Independent

member

Andrew is a corporate governance professional

with extensive experience in governance,

audit and risk management. He works for

the Institute of Internal Auditors-Australia as

internal audit subject matter expert.

He has managed internal audit functions

over his career including senior executive

roles as National Manager of Internal Audit at

Centrelink and Director of Risk Management

Services for the Northern Territory

Government, a whole-of-government internal

audit bureau service. He previously worked

with the federal government of the United

Arab Emirates where he was Chief Operating

Officer and Project Director for a major

capacity building project at the federal

audit office.

Mr Cox has worked in Australia, Afghanistan,

Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Fiji, France,

Ghana, Indonesia, Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia,

the Netherlands, New Zealand, Papua New

Guinea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, the UAE,

the UK and the USA.

He has made presentations on governance

and assurance in Australia and

internationally, and has taught internal

auditing in Australia and other countries. He

has authored numerous publications, white

papers and fact sheets for the IIA-Australia.

He is an independent chair and member of a

number of audit committees.

3/3 $5,148.00 Appointed

December

2020

Member name Qualifications, knowledge, skills or experience (include formal and informal as relevant)

Number of meetings attended/ total number of meetings

Total annual remuneration (GST inc.)

Additional information

Mr Michael

Parkinson

Independent

member

Michael Parkinson has more than 40

years experience in internal auditing

and risk management. His experience is

predominantly in government and covers

all 3 levels. He has also provided technical

advice and support in other countries within

the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Parkinson has served at international

level in professional bodies developing

the profession and professional standards

and guidance for internal auditors and

information systems auditors. He is also

recognised for his professional expertise in

these fields.

Michael served for 8 years on the Standards

Australia/ Standards New Zealand joint

technical committee on risk management

standards. He was chair of this committee

for 4 years and during that time was

head of the Australian delegation to the

corresponding ISO committee. He also

served on the committee that developed

the international standard on Compliance

Management Systems.

Michael continues to serve on a number of

audit committees and, additionally, provides

quality reviews and advice to internal audit

and to risk management functions.

3/3 $5,016.00 Appointed

December

2020

Mr Stephen

Sheehan

Independent

member

Stephen has 40 years of financial

management experience. He has a Bachelor

of Commerce degree, was previously an

Australian Public Service senior executive

and held the positions of Chief Financial

Officer at the Commonwealth Department

of Immigration and Citizenship and the

Department of Health and Ageing.

3/3 $7,170.00 Appointed

December

2020.

Mr Sheehan

also chairs

the Financial

Statements

Sub-Committee

of the

MDBA Audit

Committee

Mr Andrew

Reynolds

Advisory member+

for MDBA Joint

Venture

Executive Director, River Management

Division

(see Andrew’s biographical details at

page 85)

5/6 $0 N/A

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Member name Qualifications, knowledge, skills or experience (include formal and informal as relevant)

Number of meetings attended/ total number of meetings

Total annual remuneration (GST inc.)

Additional information

Dr Tony McLeod

Advisory member+

General Manager, SDL Accounting and

Aboriginal Partnerships

Tony has extensive experience in a

scientifically-based working environment

related to water policy development,

implementation and working with states

and territories. He has long-term SES

experience in the Australian Public Service

including a key role in the development

and implementation of the Water Act,

amendments to the Act in 2008 and the

2012 Murray-Darling Basin Plan. He has a

PhD in Environmental Engineering.

4/6 $0 N/A

Tim Goodes

Advisory member+

Executive Director, Basin Plan Regulation

(see Tim’s biographical details at page 85)

5/6 $0 N/A

+ Advisory members are not appointed under the PGPA Act

External scrutiny

The reporting requirements for corporate

Commonwealth entities require the MDBA to report

on significant developments in external scrutiny that

occurred during the reporting period. This includes

judicial decisions or decisions by administrative

tribunals that may have had an effect on the

MDBA’s operations.

Judicial or administrative tribunal decisions

There were no judicial decisions or decisions of

administrative tribunals relating to the MDBA made

during 2020-21.

Auditor-General reports

The MDBA’s financial statements are audited by the

Auditor-General.

The Australian National Audit Office made no formal

reports relating to the MDBA during 2020-21.

Parliamentary committee reports

No parliamentary committee reports relevant to the

MDBA were tabled during 2020-21.

Commonwealth Ombudsman reports

The Commonwealth Ombudsman made no formal

reports relating to the MDBA during 2020-21.

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner reports

There were no findings or reviews made by the Office

of the Australian Information Commissioner relating

to MDBA freedom of information or privacy matters

during 2020-21.

Capability reviews

No capability reviews in relation to the MDBA were

released during 2020-21.

Freedom of information

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth)

(FOI Act), individuals have the right to access copies

of documents held by Australian Government

ministers and agencies. There are some exceptions.

During 2020-21, the MDBA received 7 freedom of

information requests. Six requests were processed in

accordance with the statutory timeframes and one

request was withdrawn.

The MDBA maintains a disclosure log and complies

with the obligation to publish a range of information

on its website as part of the Information Publication

Scheme.

This information includes:

• the organisational structure

• what the MDBA does and how it does it

• statutory appointments

• annual reports

• consultation arrangements and other information

held

• details of how to obtain information released

after freedom of information requests

• information routinely provided to parliament.

The MDBA’s approach is outlined in the

Murray-Darling Basin Authority Information

Publication Scheme Agency Plan at: https://www.

mdba.gov.au/publications/policies-guidelines/

information-publication-scheme-agency-plan

Ministerial directions and government policy orders

Under the PGPA Rule, the MDBA is required to report

on any ministerial directions which are given under

an Act or instrument. The MDBA did not receive

any new ministerial directions during 2020-21 and

continues to comply with the Water (Indigenous

Values and Uses) Direction 2018 (Cth).

Under the PGPA Act the MDBA must report on any

government policy orders that applied to it during

the reporting period. The MDBA was not subject to

any government policy orders during 2020-21.

Advertising and market research

Under s 17AH of the PGPA Rule, the MDBA is

required to report on any advertising and market

research undertaken during the financial year above

the threshold set out in s 311A of the Commonwealth

Electoral Act 1918.

There was no advertising, polling or direct mail

expenses that met the threshold of more than

$14,300.

In 2020-21 the MDBA undertook stakeholder

research and market research (see Table 14). During

these activities the MDBA considered the effects of

COVID-19 and subsequent changes to society and the

economy did not negatively impact the participants

or the research results.

Table 14: Stakeholder and market research

Activity  Provider Cost

Stakeholder

research

ORIMA

research*

$104,786

Market research ORIMA research  $309,992

Note: See Goal 4, p 61.

Corporate accountability | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 95

96 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Corporate accountability

Ecological sustainability and environmental performance

Ecological sustainability is at the core of the MDBA’s

activities and reflected in the Water Act. As per

the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity

Conservation Act 1999 the MDBA is required to

report on its environmental performance. This

includes how the MDBA is considering the principles

of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) in its

business activities.

There are 5 principles of ecological sustainable

development:

• the integration principle - decision-making

processes should effectively integrate both

long-term and short-term economic,

environmental, social and equitable

considerations.

• the precautionary principle - if there are threats

of serious or irreversible environmental damage,

lack of full scientific certainty should not be used

as a reason for postponing measures to prevent

environmental degradation.

• the intergenerational principle - the present

generation should ensure that the health,

diversity and productivity of the environment

is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of

future generations.

• the biodiversity principle - the conservation

of biological diversity and ecological integrity

should be a fundamental consideration in

decision-making.

• the valuation principle - improved valuation,

pricing and incentive mechanisms should be

promoted.

Table 15 shows some examples of how the MDBA is

meeting and advancing these principles in its work.

Table 15: MDBA performance in ecological sustainable development

MDBA activity How activity meets and furthers ESD principles

Developing and implementing the

Basin Plan

• Meets the integration principle by incorporating long- and short-term

considerations of economic, environmental, social and equitable aspects

• Meets the biodiversity principle by including biodiversity considerations in

decision-making

• Meets the intergenerational principle by ensuring the health of the Basin is

preserved for future generations

Facilitating the development and

implementation of environmental

watering plans, including plans in the

northern Basin toolkit measures

• Meets the integration principle by incorporating long- and short-term

considerations of economic, environmental, social and equitable aspects

• Meets the precautionary principle by acting to prevent potential

environmental damage

• Meets the biodiversity principle by including biodiversity considerations in

decision-making

• Meets the intergenerational principle by ensuring the health of the Basin is

preserved for future generations

Reporting on the social, economic,

cultural, hydrological, water quality

and ecological conditions of the

Murray-Darling Basin

• Meets the integration principle by incorporating long- and short-term

considerations of economic, environmental, social and equitable aspects

• Meets the precautionary principle by acting to prevent potential

environmental damage

• Meets the biodiversity principle by including biodiversity considerations in

decision-making

• Meets the intergenerational principle by ensuring the health of the Basin is

preserved for future generations

MDBA activity How activity meets and furthers ESD principles

Using satellite imagery to watch

over the 1 million square kilometre

Murray-Darling and better manage

water

• Meets the integration principle by incorporating long- and short-term

considerations of economic, environmental, social and equitable aspect

• Meets the biodiversity principle by including biodiversity considerations in

decision-making

• Meets the intergenerational principle by ensuring the health of the Basin is

preserved for future generations

Directing river operations in the

River Murray in accordance with the

objectives and outcomes set by the

Basin Officials Committee

• Meets the integration principle by incorporating long- and short-term

considerations of economic, environmental, social and equitable aspects

• Meets the biodiversity principle by including biodiversity considerations in

decision-making

• Meets the intergenerational principle by ensuring the health of the Basin is

preserved for future generations

Environmental performance

The MDBA takes a proactive approach to managing its activities in way that minimises the effect on the

environment. This approach is shown in Table 16.

Table 16: MDBA’s environmental performance

Theme MDBA measures

Energy efficiency • Factoring in whitegoods and ICT equipment with the highest energy-saving when saving

when determining procurement best value

• Installing LED lighting with movement sensors throughout MDBA offices and turning lights

off in areas not in use

• Using power-efficient centralised multi-function devices instead of desktop printers

• Directly heating all hot water in kitchens through zip heater systems

• Achieving a 6-star NABERS Energy Tenancy rating for the MDBA Canberra office space.

Similar performances have been achieved in applicable regional offices such as a 5.5 star

energy rating for Goondiwindi, and a 5 star energy rating for Mildura

• Asking staff to:

— turn off lights to rooms when not in use

— turn off computer monitors overnight

Waste • Minimising paper and toner usage by defaulting printer settings to print paper double-sided

and use black and white ink

• Minimising paper usage by enabling ‘swipe-to-print’, allowing staff to only print the

documents they need

• Publishing only in electronic format, unless print copies are required

• Basin-wide recycling initiatives are in place across MDBA offices including, but not limited to,

soft plastic, battery, organic plastic bottle tops, coffee pods and organic waste recycling. An

example of this performance is the total of 75,420 litres of waste in the Canberra office

• 6 star NABERS Waste Management ratings achieved at Griffith, Goondiwindi, Mildura and

Murray Bridge regional offices

• Using toilet tissue supplies from a company that uses 100% renewable resources and donates

50% of profits to help build ablution blocks for those communities in need

Corporate accountability | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 97

98 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Corporate accountability

Theme MDBA measures

Water • Working with building management in applicable MDBA office locations on water-saving

initiatives including installing:

— water-efficient toilets

— low-flow shower heads

— sensor-operated taps in bathrooms

— low flow taps in all kitchen areas

Travel • Encouraging staff to minimise non-essential travel and providing all staff with access to

video conferencing software to facilitate electronic meetings. This performance can be

measured by a reduction in air travel of 63.74% and an overall travel reduction of 57.13%

• Supporting staff who cycle to work by providing a secured bike storage area, and end-of-trip

facilities consisting of lockers, toilets and showers in the Canberra office

People and culture

The MDBA’s people are its most important asset. The important work of implementing the Basin Plan requires skills in a range of areas. MDBA people have skills in a variety of areas including engineering, environmental science, hydrology, social science, economics, communications, policy, technology and project management. One-third of MDBA staff are located in regional parts of the Basin, allowing them to work more closely with local communities.

Case study: Focus on reconciliation

The MDBA is committed to supporting the national reconciliation movement. The Diversity and Inclusion

Strategy and Cultural Protocols and First Nations Engagement Guide provide advice and direction. The

MDBA’s second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) has been in place since November 2019.

This ‘Innovate’ RAP has a work program that will

be implemented over 2 years to contribute to

connecting with First Nations cultures through

relationships, respect and opportunities.

The Strengthening Connections Committee

(SCC), formed in 2015, is responsible for the

implementation the MDBA’s RAP. It’s made up of

volunteers from throughout the MDBA who want

to contribute towards reconciliation.

Each year the SCC go above and beyond to

provide great opportunities for staff to celebrate

the rich history and culture of Australia’s First

Nations people:

• NAIDOC week 2020 - Always Was Always

Will Be - featured Associate Professor Bradley

Moggridge as the keynote speaker; a cooking

class with celebrity chef, Aunty Dale Chapman;

and a presentation on the Gayini Nimmie Caira

project by Authority member Rene Woods;

films, poetry and art; and a performance by

Sharron Mirri Bell.

• National Reconciliation Week 2021 (27 May to

3 June) - More than a word - had Dr Virginia

Marshall as the keynote speaker; on-Country

events led by First Nations people for Adelaide/

Murray Bridge and the Canberra offices (the

Mildura event was deferred due to COVID);

book club, film and bush tucker events.

Staff can also use the Garrandarang Library,

which gives MDBA staff and their families access

to a range of First Nations books and resources.

Broadening knowledge and appreciation of

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and

culture supports MDBA staff and families on

their own reconciliation journey. In the Wiradjuri

language, the word Garrandarang means book.

CASE STUDY

People and culture | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 99

Ethical standards

The MDBA is committed to good and transparent

governance. The MDBA’s ability to deliver its

activities and functions relies on public confidence

in the integrity of the agency. The MDBA promotes

a single organisational culture built on the CREATE

values. As a Commonwealth agency, these values are

underpinned by the Australian Public Service (APS)

values: committed to service, ethical, respectful,

accountable and impartial.

Standards and behaviours are set out in the APS

Code of Conduct in section 13 of the Public Service

Act 1999. The MDBA supplements this with policies

that support ethical standards including:

• Procedures for determining APS Code of

Conduct breaches

• MDBA Conflict of Interest Policy 2019-2021

• Fraud control policy

• Conflict of interest Policy 2019-2021.

These policies are published on the MDBA’s

website at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/about-us/

accountability-reporting

Work health and safety

Initiatives delivered in 2020-21 included:

• regular workplace inspections and risk

assessments monitored by the Health and

Safety Committee

• promotion of R U OK? Day

• early intervention services to prevent and

mitigate chronic injuries or illnesses developing

• annual flu vaccinations

• workstation assessments (including home-based)

by qualified occupational therapists

• rehabilitation support

• confidential support services for employees and

eligible family members through the Employee

Assistance Program

• an annual health and wellbeing allowance

• activities for the annual health and

wellbeing week.

There was one reported incident. No active

compensation claims nor new claims were approved

(see Table 17).

Table 17: Health and safety statistics over a 7-year period

2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21

Internal reports on

workplace hazards

and incidents

44 16 7 23 12 7 1

Lost time caused by

incidents and injuries

not reported to

Comcare (staff days)

4.5 1.5 58 14.5 2.5 0 0

Lost time caused by

incidents and injuries

reported to Comcare

(staff days)

10 0 0 3 0 0 0

Incidents reported to

Comcare

1 0 0 1 0 0 0

100 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | People and culture

A comparison of Comcare claims over a 7-year period shows that there have been no new claims for the past

3 years (see Table 18).

Table 18: Comparison of Comcare claims and premiums over a 7-year period

2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21

Number of new claims 1 0 0 1 0 0 0

Total cost of new claims ($) 11,625 0 0 2,552 0 0 0

Average cost of new claims ($) 11,625 0 0 2,552 0 0 0

Comcare premium ($) 1,080,859 1,062,746 1,040,669 1,026,752 357,142 116,181 87,435

Health and Safety Committee

The MDBA’s Health and Safety Committee assists the

MDBA’s Executive to ensure health and safety for

MDBA employees at work. This includes assisting with

developing policies and procedures and coordinating

activities for special events including the annual

health and wellbeing week.

The committee meets 4 times each year.

Membership comprises:

• Chair - Senior Director, River Operations and

Modernisation

• Deputy Chair - Chief Operating Officer

• Director, People and Culture

• Management representative

• Chief Emergency Warden

• Health and safety representatives - Canberra

• Health and safety representative - regional office.

Employee arrangements

As at 30 June 2021, the MDBA had 300 staff:

266 ongoing and 34 non-ongoing (see Table 19 and

Table 20). The MDBA did not have any staff in the

Northern Territory, Tasmania, the external territories

or overseas.

Staff are employed under the Murray-Darling

Authority Enterprise Agreement, which came into

effect on 10 July 2017. The terms of this agreement

will continue to apply until 10 July 2023 or until

replaced by a new enterprise agreement under the

provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009.

In May 2020 MDBA staff agreed to a Determination

under s 24(1) of the Public Service Act to increase

salaries and allowances. The Determination allowed

for 3 pay rises of 2% in July 2020, July 2021 and

July 2022. The first pay rise was on 11 January 2021

following a decision by the Australian Government

to defer public service salary increases for 6 months

due to COVID-19.

Employee Consultative Committee

The Employee Consultative Committee provides

advice to the Chief Executive on matters relating to

the enterprise agreement. It also acts as a forum for

involving staff in the decision-making process for

changes to existing policies, guidelines or procedures,

and the development of new ones.

It is established under clause 11 of the

Murray-Darling Basin Authority Enterprise

Agreement 2017-2020.

Membership comprises:

• Chief Executive (Chair)

• representatives from management

• an elected employee from each portfolio

or regional office

• an employee representative from the

relevant unions.

People and culture | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 101

102 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | People and culture

Table 19: Ongoing employees current reporting period (as at 30 June 2021)

Male Female Indeterminate Total

Full

time

Part

time

Total

Male

Full

time

Part

time

Total

Female

Full

time

Part

time

Total

Indeterminate

NSW 6 2 8 9 0 9 0 0 0 17

QLD 3 0 3 5 0 5 0 0 0 8

SA 12 0 12 5 2 7 0 0 0 19

VIC 11 0 11 14 1 15 1 0 1 27

WA 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1

ACT 93 3 96 78 20 98 0 0 0 194

Total 125 5 130 111 24 135 1 0 1 266

Table 20: Non-ongoing employees current reporting period (as at 30 June 2021)

Male Female Indeterminate Total

Full

time

Part

time

Total

Male

Full

time

Part

time

Total

Female

Full

time

Part

time

Total

Indeterminate

NSW 1 0 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 3

QLD 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 2

SA 4 2 6 4 0 4 0 0 0 10

VIC 2 0 2 3 1 4 0 0 0 6

WA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

ACT 8 1 9 4 0 4 0 0 0 13

Total 16 3 19 14 1 15 0 0 0 34

Tables 21 and 22 show ongoing and non-ongoing employee numbers for the previous reporting period.

Table 21: Ongoing employees previous reporting period (2019-20)

Full-time male

Part-time male Total male Full-time female

Part-time female

Total female

Total

NSW 4 1 5 3 - 3 8

Qld 3 - 3 2 - 2 5

SA 12 - 12 6 - 6 18

Vic 4 - 4 5 1 6 10

WA -- - - - 1 1 1

ACT 94 7 101 94 27 121 222

Total 117 8 125 110 29 139 264

Table 22: Non-ongoing employees previous reporting period (2019-20)

Full-time male

Part-time male Total male Full-time female

Part-time female

Total female

Total

NSW 1 - 1 2 - 2 3

Qld 1 - 1 2 - 2 3

SA 2 1 3 2 - 2 5

Vic 1 - 1 2 - 2 3

ACT 7 1 8 2 1 3 11

Total 12 2 14 10 1 11 25

Note: In 2019-20 the MDBA did not have any employees who identified as indeterminate.

Executive remuneration

The Remuneration Tribunal is the independent

statutory body that determines the remuneration of

Commonwealth Office Holders. The MDBA Authority

members are Commonwealth Office Holders and

are, at 30 June 2021, the Chair, Chief Executive and

3 part-time members. The Authority members’ total

remuneration is in accordance with the Remuneration

Tribunal 2021 Full-time and Part-time Office Holder

determinations.

The Chief Executive determines the remuneration for

the MDBA’s Senior Executive Service (SES) officers

under section 24 (1) of the Public Service Act 1999

(Cth), with regard to the Workplace Bargaining Policy

2018, which came into effect on 6 February 2018.

The MDBA’s remuneration policy allows variations

in remuneration between individual jobs, based on

market and work-value considerations. This is vital

to the MDBA’s ability to compete effectively for the

best people in the employment market.

Non-salary benefits provided to SES employees are

part of the SES remuneration package which includes

conditions such as superannuation and payment for

car parking (where applicable).

People and culture | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 103

104 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | People and culture

Table 23: Remuneration for key management personnel

Short-term benefits Post-

employment benefits

Other long-term benefits

Termination benefits

Total

remuneration

Name Position title

Base salary

1

$

Bonuses $

Other benefits and allowances $

Superannuation contributions $

Long service leave $ $ $

Air Chief

Marshal Sir.

Angus Houston

AK AFC (Ret'd)

Authority Chair 107,476 - - 10,206 - - 117,682

Prof. Stuart

Bunn

Authority Member (Acting

Chair 1/7/2020-6/8/2020)

88,370 - - 8,395 - - 96,765

Joanna Hewitt AO Authority Member 71,556 - - 6,798 - - 78,354

Susan Madden Authority Member 56,477 - - 5,496 - - 61,972

Rene Woods Authority Member 38,382 - - 3,789 - - 42,171

Phillip Glyde Chief Executive 392,833 - 5,049 65,085 -7,215 - 455,752

William Goodes Executive Director 313,740 - - 45,141 65,488 - 424,369

Annette Blyton Executive Director 280,643 - 5,049 49,534 2,646 - 337,871

Andrew Reynolds Executive Director 285,502 - 5,049 42,168 1,204 - 333,923

Vicki Woodburn Executive Director 261,981 5,049 49,533 2,366 - 318,929 1 Base salary includes the current reporting period’s annual leave accrual and excludes the leave paid in the current reporting period.

Table 24: Remuneration for senior executives

Short-term benefits Post-

employment benefits

Other long-term benefits Termination benefits

Total

remuneration

Total remuneration bands Number of senior executive staff

Average base salary

1

$

Average other benefits and allowances $

Average

superannuation contributions $

Average long service leave $

Average termination benefits $

Average total remuneration $

$220,000 or less 2 124,954 2,524 27,439 -3,077 151,840

$220,001-$245,000 1 217,862 - 23,636 2,439 - 243,936

$245,001-$270,000 5 217,895 2,306 30,672 5,092 - 255,964

$270,001-$295,000 1 201,614 - 32,162 48,678 - 282,454

$295,001-$320,000 1 246,494 5,325 40,849 10,829 - 303,497

$320,001-$345,000 1 229,517 - 33,428 75,592 - 338,537

Table 25: Remuneration for other highly paid staff

Short-term benefits Post-

employment benefits

Other long-term benefits Termination benefits

Total

remuneration

Total remuneration bands Number of other highly paid staff

Average base salary

1

$

Average other benefits and allowances $

Average

superannuation contributions $

Average long service leave $

Average termination benefits $

Average total remuneration $

$230,001 - $245,000 2 187,397 7,424 32,993 7,096 - 234,910

1 Base salary includes the current reporting period’s annual leave accrual and excludes the leave paid in the current reporting period.

People and culture | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 105

04

Part 4

CFO report and financial statements

Chief Finance Officer’s report 108

Financial st atements 113

108 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Chief Finance Officer’s report

Chief Finance Officer’s report

Financial performance

For 2020-21 the MDBA reported a total

comprehensive income attributable to the Australian

Government of $9.2 million (2019-20: $10.3 million).

This was a result of:

• Revenue received during the year for new

projects, where the funds were not spent in

2020-21. These projects included Hydrometric

network and remote sensing (HN&RS); Water

and Environmental Research Program (WERP);

and Cameras to monitor Barwon-Darling flows

received and recognised funding of $57.2 million

and spent and recognised expenses of

$19.2 million.

• Lower spending than anticipated on the

Murray-Darling Basin Agreement functions.

A significant portion of this will be carried over

into the 2021-22 financial year to complete the

projects in progress.

• Expenditure for Murray-Darling Basin Agreement

functions were lower than budgeted due to an

underspend by the State Construction Authorities

(SCA) against budget. Underspends by SCAs are

mostly delays in the completion of construction

and maintenance projects and will require a

carryover of the unspent budget. In addition

to this, a number of underspends in the joint

programs were due to the COVID-19 related

restrictions in place, which again prevented

timely procurement of resources or conducting

workshops across jurisdictions. This included

delays in the receipt of vehicles, plant and

equipment from overseas and the flow-on impacts

on the activities dependent upon these items.

Revenue

During 2020-21, the MDBA revenue comprised:

• Revenue from the Australian Government

totalling $62.0 million (2019-20: $75.2 million).

This was lower in 2020-21 primarily due

to the reduction in funding received for the

South Australian Riverland Floodplains Integrated

Infrastructure Program to $11.2 million

(2019-20: $25.0 million).

• Contributions from jurisdictions of $83.2 million

(2019-20: $86.4 million). This was lower in

2020-21 due to some jurisdictions exercising

the offset option available against prior year

contribution unspent.

• Other revenue (excluding interest received)

of $34.4 million (2019-20: $29.5) primarily

comprised of funding for a range of new projects

commissioned by the Australian Government and

royalty from hydropower generation. Revenue

for new projects from the Australian Government

relate to Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs)

signed with the Department of Agriculture, Water

and the Environment (DAWE). This year’s other

revenue increase is due to receiving the proceeds

from the disposal of River Murray Operations

(RMO) surplus assets of $5.2 million.

Chief Finance Officer’s report | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 109

0

10

20

30

40

60

90

80

70

50

100

$ million

■ Contributions from jurisdictions ■ Revenue from the Australian Government ■ Funding for SA Riverland Floodplains Integrated Infrastructure Program

■ Other own-source revenue - Hydropower generation, land and cottage rents, salinity program ■ Memorandums of Understanding with the Australian Government

2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21

Figure 24: MDBA revenue trends (2014-15 to 2020-21)

110 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Chief Finance Officer’s report

Expenditure

The MDBA total expenditure for 2020-21 was

$171.1 million (2019-20: $182.3 million). The

decrease from the prior year is primarily due

to a decrease in expenditure on the South

Australian Riverland Floodplains Integrated

Infrastructure Program.

Figure 25 shows revenue received, expenditure

incurred and the available funds. On transition

from the Murray-Darling Basin Commission to

the MDBA during 2008, the available funds were

$441.5 million. A significant component of these

funds have been applied for RMO key construction

projects, including the Environmental Works and

Measures Program; and the MDBA share in the

acquisition of water entitlements for The Living

Murray program, which resulted in declining cash

reserves. These reserves have now started to

increase again due to the recent surpluses in the

joint program activities from lower than anticipated

expenditure on capital infrastructure projects. The

balance held in the special account primarily relates

to accumulated underspends of the joint program

and payments received from the Department of

Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) for

the HN&RS; WERP; and Cameras to monitor

Barwon-Darling flows projects (MOUs) with the

Australian Government.

The MDBA operating bank account is a special

account under section 209 of the Water Act 2007

(the Water Act). The account is not a Special

Account for the purposes of the Public Governance,

Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the

PGPA Act). The Water Act specifies that all amounts

received by the MDBA in connection with the

performance of its functions under the Water Act

must be credited to this special account. The bank

account opening balance at 1 July 2020 was

$147.0 million. This increased to $154.1 million at

the end of the year after receipts of $190.8 million

and payments of $183.7 million.

0

50

100

150

200

250

$ million

■ Revenue ■ Expenditure Available funds

2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21

Figure 25: MDBA revenue, expenditure and special account (2014-15 to 2020-21)

Managing our assets

Assets and asset management

The MDBA financial statements include total assets at

the end of 2020-21 of $182.4 million (2019-2020:

$176.3 million). When the Murray-Darling Basin

Commission transitioned to the Murray-Darling Basin

Authority in December 2008, a significant amount

of the assets were transferred to the River Murray

Operations (RMO) and Living Murray Initiative (LMI)

joint ventures.

Managed assets: Joint ventures

The two joint ventures were established through

separate agreements: Asset Agreement for River

Murray Operations Assets (RMO Assets); and Further

Agreement on Addressing Water Overallocation and

Achieving Environmental Objectives in the Murray-

Darling Basin-Control and Management of Living

Murray Assets (LMI Assets).

Under the agreements the MDBA has responsibility

for managing the following classes of assets:

• infrastructure, plant, land, and easements, which

are recorded in the RMO joint venture; and

• water entitlements, which are recorded in the

LMI joint venture.

At 30 June 2021, the RMO joint venture held net

assets of $2.7 billion, including the Hume Dam, the

Dartmouth Dam and the locks and weirs on the

River Murray. The RMO infrastructure asset base

remained relatively constant during 2020-21. As a

result of annual movements such as asset additions,

depreciation, disposals and revaluations, the total

value of assets recorded in the RMO joint venture

increased by $10.6 million in 2020-21.

Assets acquired under the asset agreement comprise:

• plant and equipment purchases of $1.6 million

• assets constructed and held in work in progress

of $3.8 million.

In 2020-21 MDBA undertook an internal asset

valuations process of the RMO assets as independent

valuations were unable to occur due to COVID-19

restrictions. Independent valuation advice was

sought for the appropriateness of the internal

valuation methodology adopted.

The LMI joint venture held net assets of

$667.6 million, comprising gross investment in

water recovery measures of $695.9 million and

accumulated impairment losses of $28.3 million.

The change in the LMI asset values during

2020-21 was the impairment on water

entitlements of $5.3 million.

Consistent with the prior year, a whole-of-government approach was adopted when

undertaking the active market assessment and

valuation of water entitlements. This ensured that

the valuation methodology and processes were

consistent for the entitlements held within the LMI

portfolio and the Department of Agriculture, Water

and the Environment.

Financial management

Special purpose reporting

One of the key functions of the MDBA is to act

as an asset manager (on behalf of the assets

controlling governments) for key infrastructure

assets throughout the Basin. Infrastructure assets

primarily comprise RMO assets, such as the Hume

Dam, Dartmouth Dam and the locks and weirs on

the River Murray, and water entitlements as part

of the LMI joint venture. These water entitlement

assets were either purchased from willing sellers or

acquired as a result of infrastructure improvement-based savings projects to achieve the objectives of

The Living Murray Initiatives. RMO and LMI assets

do not form part of the MDBA general purpose

financial statements. They are reported separately in

the RMO joint venture and LMI joint venture special

purpose financial statements. These special purpose

financial statements do not form part of this annual

report but are independently audited on an annual

basis. As part of the preparation of RMO financial

statements, the infrastructure assets are revalued

by an independent external valuer on a 3-year cycle.

An independent external valuation was undertaken

on 30 June 2018. In the intervening financial

years, including 2020-21, the MDBA conducts an

internal revaluation by adjusting the value of its

infrastructure assets using the Building Price Index

and using a calibration factor of 74% to reflect the

appropriate valuation for the unique nature of the

RMO asset base.

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As part of the preparation of the LMI financial

statements, an impairment assessment is undertaken

based on an independent valuation report. Water

entitlements trading prices are recorded in the

state registers. The state registries’ water trading

data is refined to reliably undertake an impairment

assessment that is recorded in the LMI joint venture

special purpose financial statements in accordance

with Australian Accounting Standards.

Both the RMO and LMI special purpose financial

statements are subject to an independent audit each

year. The audit for the 2020-21 financial year was

completed and the financial statements distributed to

all stakeholders in accordance with the requirements

of the relevant asset agreements. The audits resulted

in unmodified audit reports.

Internal controls

The MDBA has appropriate financial controls in

place and these operated effectively and reliably

during the year. Similarly, no major issues have

been identified by the MDBA internal audit process.

There is a sound internal control framework in place,

including effective identification and management of

business risks, and a reliable financial management

reporting system. As part of the MDBA’s corporate

accountability and compliance, MDBA APS staff

members are required to complete a financial

management compliance survey which assists in

identifying if any staff have reported

non-compliance with the finance law .

GPO Box 707, Canberra ACT 2601 38 Sydney Avenue, Forrest ACT 2603 Phone (02) 6203 7300

INDEPENDENT AUDITOR’S REPORT

To the Minister for Resources and Water

Opinion

In my opinion, the financial statements of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (the Entity) for the year ended 30 June 2021:

(a) comply with Australian Accounting Standards - Reduced Disclosure Requirements and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Financial Reporting) Rule 2015; and

(b) present fairly the financial position of the Entity as at 30 June 2021 and its financial performance and cash flows for the year then ended.

The financial statements of the Entity, which I have audited, comprise the following as at 30 June 2021 and for the year then ended:

• Statement by the Accountable Authority and Chief Finance Officer; • Statement of Comprehensive Income; • Statement of Financial Position; • Statement of Changes in Equity; • Cash Flow Statement; and • Notes to the financial statements, comprising a summary of significant accounting policies and other

explanatory information.

Basis for opinion

I conducted my audit in accordance with the Australian National Audit Office Auditing Standards, which incorporate the Australian Auditing Standards. My responsibilities under those standards are further described in the Auditor’s Responsibilities for the Audit of the Financial Statements section of my report. I am independent of the Entity in accordance with the relevant ethical requirements for financial statement audits conducted by the Auditor-General and his delegates. These include the relevant independence requirements of the Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board’s APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including Independence Standards) (the Code) to the extent that they are not in conflict with the Auditor-General Act 1997. I have also fulfilled my other responsibilities in accordance with the Code. I believe that the audit evidence I have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for my opinion.

Accountable Authority’s responsibility for the financial statements

As the Accountable Authority of the Entity, the Chief Executive is responsible under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the Act) for the preparation and fair presentation of annual financial statements that comply with Australian Accounting Standards - Reduced Disclosure Requirements and the rules made under the Act. The Chief Executive is also responsible for such internal control as the Chief Executive determines is necessary to enable the preparation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error.

In preparing the financial statements, the Chief Executive is responsible for assessing the ability of the Entity to continue as a going concern, taking into account whether the Entity’s operations will cease as a result of an administrative restructure or for any other reason. The Chief Executive is also responsible for disclosing, as applicable, matters related to going concern and using the going concern basis of accounting unless the assessment indicates that it is not appropriate.

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Auditor’s responsibilities for the audit of the financial statements

My objective is to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements as a whole are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error, and to issue an auditor’s report that includes my opinion. Reasonable assurance is a high level of assurance, but is not a guarantee that an audit conducted in accordance with the Australian National Audit Office Auditing Standards will always detect a material misstatement when it exists. Misstatements can arise from fraud or error and are considered material if, individually or in the aggregate, they could reasonably be expected to influence the economic decisions of users taken on the basis of the financial statements.

As part of an audit in accordance with the Australian National Audit Office Auditing Standards, I exercise professional judgement and maintain professional scepticism throughout the audit. I also:

• identify and assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to fraud or error, design and perform audit procedures responsive to those risks, and obtain audit evidence that is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for my opinion. The risk of not detecting a material misstatement resulting from fraud is higher than for one resulting from error, as fraud may involve collusion, forgery, intentional omissions, misrepresentations, or the override of internal control; • obtain an understanding of internal control relevant to the audit in order to design audit procedures that are

appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Entity’s internal control; • evaluate the appropriateness of accounting policies used and the reasonableness of accounting estimates and related disclosures made by the Accountable Authority; • conclude on the appropriateness of the Accountable Authority’s use of the going concern basis of accounting

and, based on the audit evidence obtained, whether a material uncertainty exists related to events or conditions that may cast significant doubt on the Entity’s ability to continue as a going concern. If I conclude that a material uncertainty exists, I am required to draw attention in my auditor’s report to the related disclosures in the financial statements or, if such disclosures are inadequate, to modify my opinion. My conclusions are based on the audit evidence obtained up to the date of my auditor’s report. However, future events or conditions may cause the Entity to cease to continue as a going concern; and • evaluate the overall presentation, structure and content of the financial statements, including the

disclosures, and whether the financial statements represent the underlying transactions and events in a manner that achieves fair presentation.

I communicate with the Accountable Authority regarding, among other matters, the planned scope and timing of the audit and significant audit findings, including any significant deficiencies in internal control that I identify during my audit.

Australian National Audit Office

Bola Oyetunji

Group Executive Director

Delegate of the Auditor-General

Canberra

24 September 2021

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Murray-Darling Basin Authority Statement by the Accountable Authority and Chief Finance Officer

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116 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Financial statements

Statement of Comprehensive Income for the year ended 30 June 2021

Original

2021 2020 Budget

Notes $'000 $'000 $'000

NET COST OF SERVICES Expenses Employee benefits 1.1A 38,895 38,420 40,533

Suppliers 1.1B 101,778 102,902 130,823

Grants 1.1C 25,184 36,536 16,578

Depreciation and amortisation 2.2 4,765 4,117 4,353

Write-down and impairment of assets 1.1D 167 - -

Finance costs 1.1E 300 344 316

Total expenses 171,089 182,319 192,603

Own-source revenue Contributions from jurisdictions 1.2A 83,152 86,380 92,001

Interest 162 1,502 1,502

Other revenue 1.2B 34,435 29,466 29,015

Total own-source revenue 117,749 117,348 122,518

Gains/(Losses) Other (Losses)/Gains 1.2C (14) 61 78

Reversal of write-downs and impairment 1.2D 185 - -

Total Gains 171 61 78

Total own-source income 117,920 117,409 122,596

Net cost of services (53,169) (64,910) (70,007)

Revenue from Government 1.2E 62,007 75,244 62,007

Surplus/(Deficit) attributable to the Australian Government 8,838 10,334 (8,000)

OTHER COMPREHENSIVE INCOME Changes in asset revaluation reserve 409 - -

Total comprehensive income 9,247 10,334 (8,000)

Total comprehensive income attributable to the Australian Government 9,247 10,334 (8,000)

The original budget comprises the Departmental budget as disclosed in the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) 2020-21.

The above statement should be read in conjunction with the accompanying notes.

Budget Variances Commentary

Budget variance explanations are outlined in Note 5. The Original Budget amounts have been adjusted so as to be consistent with the financial statements classification.

Statement of Financial Position as at 30 June 2021

Original

2021 2020 Budget

Notes $’000 $’000 $'000

ASSETS Financial assets Cash and cash equivalents 2.1A 154,063 147,005 136,651

Trade and other receivables 2.1B 4,833 3,637 3,652

Total financial assets 158,896 150,642 140,303

Non-financial assets 1

Buildings 2.2 18,214 21,745 19,116

Property, plant and equipment 2.2 2,477 1,727 1,671

Intangibles 2.2 2,308 1,380 5,852

Prepayments 468 842 842

Total non-financial assets 23,467 25,694 27,481

Total assets 182,363 176,336 167,784

LIABILITIES Payables Suppliers 2.3A 17,844 21,176 21,557

Other payables 2.3B 1,507 1,909 1,513

Total payables 19,351 23,085 23,070

Interest bearing liabilities Lease liabilities 2.4 14,228 16,693 13,786

Total interest bearing liabilities 14,228 16,693 13,786

Provisions Employee provisions 3.1 12,120 10,921 11,332

Other provisions 2.5 1,063 1,205 1,237

Total provisions 13,183 12,126 12,569

Total liabilities 46,762 51,904 49,425

Net assets 135,601 124,432 118,359

EQUITY Contributed equity (1,852) (3,774) (1,852)

Reserves 411 2 2

Retained surplus 137,042 128,204 120,209

Total equity 135,601 124,432 118,359

The above statement should be read in conjunction with the accompanying notes.

Budget Variances Commentary

Budget variance explanations are outlined in Note 5. The Original Budget amounts have been adjusted so as to be consistent with the financial statements classification.

1 Right-of-use assets are included in the line items: Buildings and Property, plant and equipment.

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Statement of Changes in Equity

Original

2021 2020 Budget

$’000 $'000 $'000

Opening balance Balance carried forward from previous year1 (3,774) (11,199) (3,774)

Equity injection2 1,922 7,425 1,922

Closing balance (1,852) (3,774) (1,852)

Opening balance Balance carried forward from previous year 128,204 113,934 128,209

Adjustment for changes in accounting policies - 3,936 -

Adjusted opening balance 128,204 117,870 128,209

Comprehensive income Surplus/(Deficit) for the year 8,838 10,334 (8,000)

Other comprehensive income - - -

Total comprehensive income 8,838 10,334 (8,000)

Closing balance 137,042 128,204 120,209

Balance carried forward from previous year 2 2 2

Comprehensive income Other comprehensive income 409 - -

Total comprehensive income 409 - -

Closing balance 411 2 2

TOTAL EQUITY

Opening balance Balance carried forward from previous year 124,432 102,737 124,437

Adjustment for changes in accounting policies - 3,936 -

Adjusted opening balance 124,432 106,673 124,437

Comprehensive income Surplus/(Deficit) for the year 8,838 10,334 (8,000)

Other comprehensive income 409 - -

Total comprehensive income 9,247 10,334 (8,000)

Contributions by owners Equity injection 1,922 7,425 1,922

Total transactions with owners 1,922 7,425 1,922

Closing balance 135,601 124,432 118,359

Liabilities of $19.180 million and assets of $7.981 million were transferred to the Authority during the 2008-09 financial year. The excess of liabilities over assets of $11.199 million has subsequently been reduced by equity injections in 2019-20 and 2020-21 and the remaining amount of $1.852 million continues to be reported in the Financial Statements of the Authority as negative contributed equity.

for the year ended 30 June 2021

CONTRIBUTED EQUITY/CAPITAL

RETAINED EARNINGS 3

ASSET REVALUATION RESERVE

The above statement should be read in conjunction with the accompanying notes.

1

The negative contributed equity is a historical legacy relating to the transition of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (MDBC) to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (Authority) on 15 December 2008. As part of the transition arrangement, all cash held by the MDBC totalling $441.488 million was paid to the Official Public Account (OPA) before being appropriated to the Authority. Once appropriated to the Authority these funds were recorded as revenue in the financial statements of the Authority.

2 Equity injection received to fund capital purchases required to support the relocation of resources to regional areas as part of the regionalisation initiative. 3

The retained earnings is inclusive of unspent funds the Authority has received in relation to the joint program. The Ministerial Council approves the use of these funds as part of the joint program work plan approval process.

Statement of Changes in Equity (continued)

Equity Injections Amounts appropriated which are designated as ‘equity injections’ for a year (less any formal reductions) and Departmental Capital Budgets (DCBs) are recognised directly in contributed equity in that year.

Accounting Policy

Budget Variances Commentary

Budget variance explanations are outlined in Note 5. The Original Budget amounts have been adjusted so as to be consistent with the financial statements classification.

for the year ended 30 June 2021

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for the year ended 30 June 2021

Original

2021 2020 Budget

Notes $’000 $’000 $'000

OPERATING ACTIVITIES Cash received Receipts from Government 62,007 75,244 62,007

Contributions from jurisdictions 83,095 86,412 92,001

Interest 380 1,953 1,502

Net GST received 9,959 11,415 14,734

Other 33,403 30,235 29,015

Total cash received 188,844 205,259 199,259

Cash used Employees 38,007 37,762 40,533

Suppliers 113,939 110,425 143,858

Grants 26,356 37,596 18,235

Interest payments on lease liabilities 289 332 284

Other - 150 -

Total cash used 178,591 186,265 202,910

Net cash from/(used by) operating activities 10,253 18,994 (3,651)

INVESTING ACTIVITIES Cash received Proceeds from sales - - -

Total cash received - - -

Cash used Purchase of property, plant and equipment 1,314 2,519 1,656

Purchase of intangible assets 1,307 1,060 4,482

Total cash used 2,621 3,579 6,138

Net cash (used by) investing activities (2,621) (3,579) (6,138)

FINANCING ACTIVITIES Cash received Contributed equity 1,922 7,425 1,922

Total cash received 1,922 7,425 1,922

Cash used Principal payments of lease liabilities 2,496 2,076 2,487

Total cash used 2,496 2,076 2,487

Net cash (used by)/from financing activities (574) 5,349 (565)

Net Increase/(decrease) in cash held 7,058 20,764 (10,354)

Cash and cash equivalents at the beginning of the reporting period 147,005 126,241 147,005

Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the reporting period 2.1A 154,063 147,005 136,651

The above statement should be read in conjunction with the accompanying notes.

Cash Flow Statement

Budget Variances Commentary

Budget variance explanations are outlined in Note 5. The Original Budget amounts have been adjusted so as to be consistent with the financial statements classification.

Overview

Objectives of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (the Authority) is an Australian Government controlled corporate Commonwealth entity established by the Water Act 2007 . It is a not-for-profit entity. The principal objective of the Authority is to manage the Murray-Darling Basin’s water resources in the national interest so that there may be an equitable and sustainable use of the Basin’s resources.

The continued existence of the Authority in its present form and with its present programs is dependent on: • Funding from Basin jurisdictions towards meeting the cost of Murray-Darling Basin Agreement functions; and • Government policy and on continuing funding by Commonwealth Government for the Authority’s administration and programs relating to the Basin Plan and Murray-Darling Basin Agreement functions.

The Authority’s activities are classified as departmental. Departmental activities involve the use of assets, liabilities, income and expenses controlled or incurred by the Authority in its own right.

From 1 July 2013, the Authority became responsible for the South Australian Riverland Floodplains Integrated Infrastructure Program (SARFIIP). SARFIIP aims to enhance the effectiveness of improved environmental flows to South Australia, in particular at the Pike and Katarapko - Eckert’s Creek (Katfish Reach) Floodplains and was initially expected to extend over 7 years, with an estimated cost of $155 million. While these activities are not controlled by the Authority it exercises effective project oversight and funding on behalf of the Commonwealth. SARFIIP funding is recorded as revenue from government and expenses are recorded as a grant expense in the Authority’s Statement of Comprehensive Income. Prior to 2014-15, the project was reported as an Administered item.

In the 2020-21 Budget, additional funding of $37.6 million over 2 years was approved, bringing the Government's total funding in the program to $192.6 million. New projects have been included in the existing SARFIIP program as a result of the additional funding.

Basis of Preparation of the Financial Statements

The financial statements are general-purpose financial statements and are required by section 42 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).

The financial statements have been prepared in accordance with:

a) Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Financial Reporting) Rule 2015 (FRR); and b) Australian Accounting Standards and Interpretations - Reduced Disclosure Requirements issued by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) that apply for the reporting period.

The financial statements have been prepared on an accrual basis and in accordance with the historical cost convention except for certain assets and liabilities reported at fair value. Except where stated, no allowance is made for the effect of changing prices on the results or the financial position.

The financial statements are presented in Australian dollars and values are rounded to the nearest thousand dollars unless otherwise specified.

Unless alternative treatment is specifically required by an accounting standard, income and expenses are recognised in the Statement of Comprehensive Income, when and only when the flow, consumption or loss of economic benefits has occurred and can be reliably measured.

New Accounting Standards All new, revised or amended standards and interpretations that were issued prior to the sign-off date and are applicable to the current reporting date did not have a material effect on the Authority's financial statements.

Taxation The Authority is exempt from all forms of taxation except for Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Revenues, expenses and assets are recognised net of GST except: • where the amount of GST incurred is not recoverable from the Australian Taxation Office; and • for receivables and payables which are recognised inclusive of GST.

Comparative Figures Comparative figures are adjusted so that those amounts conform with changes in the presentation of the financial statements where required.

Events After the Reporting Period On 24 June 2021, the Water Legislation Amendment (Inspector-General of Water Compliance and Other Measures) Bill 2021 was passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. This Bill amends the Water Act 2007 to establish the role of an independent Inspector-General of Water Compliance to monitor, and provide independent oversight of, water compliance. The Office of the Inspector-General of Water compliance assumes the water compliance function from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority effective 5 August 2021. This requires a transfer of the water compliance function from the Authority to the Office of the Inspector-General of Water compliance, which includes budgeted appropriations and full-time equivalent staff. We estimate the impact of this transfer to be $5.5 million of budgeted appropriation and 18 full-time equivalent staff.

No other matters or circumstances have arisen since the end of the financial year which significantly affected or may affect the operations of the Authority, the results of these operations or state of affairs of the Authority in subsequent years.

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Financial Performance

Note 1.1: Expenses

2021 2020

$’000 $’000

Note 1.1A: Employee Benefits Wages and salaries 28,512 27,459

Superannuation:

Defined contribution plans 3,627 3,300

Defined benefit plans 1,680 1,873

Leave and other entitlements 4,773 5,232

Separation and redundancies 303 556

Total employee benefits 38,895 38,420

Accounting policy

Note 1.1B: Suppliers Goods and services supplied or rendered Expenditure by State Constructing Authorities 57,906 67,754

Water licence fee 4,260 3,562

Consultants and contractors 32,852 23,477

Communication & IT services 3,218 2,703

Other employment related expenses 1,206 1,076

Committee expenses 293 536

Travel 603 1,312

Other 1,216 1,698

Goods and services supplied or rendered 101,554 102,118

Goods and services are made up of:

Provision of goods 434 483

Rendering of services 101,120 101,635

Total goods and services supplied or rendered 101,554 102,118

Other suppliers Short-term leases 116 644

Workers compensation expenses - Commonwealth government entity 108 140

Total other suppliers 224 784

Total suppliers 101,778 102,902

This section analyses the financial performance of the Authority for the year ended 30 June 2021.

Accounting policies for employee related expenses are outlined in Note 3.1.

The Authority has no short-term lease commitments as at 30 June 2021.

The above lease disclosures should be read in conjunction with the accompanying notes 1.1E, 2.2 and 2.4.

Note 1.1: Expenses - continued

Accounting policy

2021 2020

$’000 $’000

Note 1.1C: Grants State and Territory Governments 11,576 9,890

South Australian Riverland Floodplains Integrated Infrastructure Program 11,223 24,500

Private sector: Commercial entities 100 20

Non-profit institutions 1,853 1,679

Other 432 447

Total grants 25,184 36,536

Note 1.1D: Write-Down and Impairment of Assets Impairment on intangible assets 167 -

Total write-down and impairment of assets 167 -

Note 1.1E: Finance Costs Unwinding of discount on make good provision 20 12

Interest on lease liabilities 280 332

Total finance costs 300 344

Short-term leases and leases of low-value assets The Authority has elected not to recognise right-of-use assets and lease liabilities for short-term leases of assets that have a lease term of 12 months or less and leases of low-value assets (less than $10,000). The entity recognises the lease payments associated with these leases as an expense on a straight-line basis over the lease term.

The above lease disclosures should be read in conjunction with the accompanying notes 1.1B, 2.2 and 2.4.

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Note 1.2: Own-Source Income

2021 2020

Own-Source Revenue $’000 $’000

Note 1.2A: Contributions from Jurisdictions Australian Government 12,560 12,165

New South Wales 28,639 29,660

Victoria 21,800 21,800

South Australia 19,715 22,325

Queensland 110 108

Australian Capital Territory 328 322

Total contributions from jurisdictions 83,152 86,380

Accounting policy

Note 1.2B: Other Revenue Hydropower generation 722 3,517

Funding from other MOUs1 25,298 23,425

Contributions by States - Salinity program 1,198 1,055

Revenue from use of Land and Cottage 331 325

Proceeds from disposal of RMO assets 2 5,172 -

Other 3 1,714 1,144

Total other revenue 34,435 29,466

Accounting policy

The Authority receives contributions from jurisdictions based on an agreed contributions model (the model). The model is based on a number of different requirements including specific provisions under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement. These contributions are recognised as revenue when received or when the Authority has control over the underlying assets.

Hydropower generation Hydroelectricity revenue is generated when the release of water from Hume and Dartmouth Dams is routed through electricity generating plants. Revenue is recognised over time based on recovery of a set percentage of the hydroelectricity revenue earned during the period.

Funding from other MOUs Revenue is recognised over time based on milestones achieved.

Contributions by States - Salinity program Revenue is recognised over time on a cost recovery basis.

1 Amounts relate to revenue received in relation to Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) signed with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) for the Murray-Darling Basin Water and Environment Research Program, Independent Assessment of Social and Economic Conditions, Ecosystem Functions Research Program, Hydrometric Network and Remote Sensing Funding Program, Northern Basin Cameras Project, Office of Compliance Machinery of Government Transfer, and Enhanced Environmental Water Delivery project.

Revenue from use of Land and cottage Revenue is recognised at a point in time as it is earned.

Other revenue Other revenue comprises of miscellaneous revenue that is recognised both at a point in time and over time depending on the nature of the transaction.

3 Other revenue includes an amount of $85,000 (2020: $78,000) for audit services provided free of charge by the Australian National Audit Office.

2 Proceeds received from disposal of River Murray Operations (RMO) surplus assets. The Authority is responsible for managing the RMO assets on behalf of the asset controlling governments. The proceeds were paid to the Authority to offset future contributions from jurisdictions under section 82 (2) of the Water Act 2007 (Cth).

Note 1.2: Own-Source Income - continued

2021 2020

$’000 $’000

Gains/(Losses)

Note 1.2C: Other (Losses)/Gains Gain/(loss) on movement in provisions - 61

(Loss) on disposal/write-off of assets (14) -

Total other (losses)/gains (14) 61

Note 1.2D: Reversal of write-downs and impairment Reversal of impairment losses 185 -

Total reversals of previous asset write-downs and impairments 185 -

Revenue from Government

Note 1.2E: Revenue from Government Corporate Commonwealth entity payment item:

Department of Agriculture - 44,615

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment 62,007 30,629

Total revenue from Government 62,007 75,244

Accounting Policy Funding received or receivable from non-corporate Commonwealth entities (appropriated to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as a corporate Commonwealth entity payment item for payment to the Authority) is recognised as Revenue from Government by the Authority unless the funding is in the nature of an equity injection or a loan.

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Financial Position

Note 2.1: Financial Assets

2021 2020

$’000 $’000

Note 2.1A: Cash and Cash Equivalents Cash on hand 154,063 147,005

Total cash and cash equivalents 154,063 147,005

Accounting policy

Note 2.1B: Trade and Other Receivables Goods and services receivables Trade Receivables 1,292 57

Net GST receivable from the Australian Taxation Office 2,915 2,768

Other Receivables 626 812

Total goods and services receivable (gross) 4,833 3,637

Total trade and other receivables (net) 4,833 3,637

Accounting policy

Cash is recognised at its nominal amount. Cash and cash equivalents include cash on hand and any deposits in bank accounts with an original maturity of 3 months or less that are readily convertible to known amounts of cash and subject to insignificant risk of changes in value.

This section analyses the Authority's assets used to conduct its operations and the operating liabilities incurred as a result. Employee related information is disclosed in the People and Relationships section.

Credit terms for goods and services were within 30 days (2020: 30 days).

Trade receivables and other receivables that are held for the purpose of collecting the contractual cash flows where the cash flows are solely payments of principal and interest, that are not provided at below-market interest rates, are subsequently measured at amortised cost using the effective interest method adjusted for any loss allowance.

Note 2.2: Non-Financial Assets

Note 2.2: Reconciliation of the Opening and Closing Balances of Property, Plant and Equipment and Intangibles

Reconciliation of the opening and closing balances for 2021

Buildings Property, plant & equipment Computer

software1 Data sets Total

$’000 $’000 $’000 $’000 $’000

As at 1 July 2020 Gross book value 25,601 3,115 6,982 1,908 37,606

Accumulated depreciation, amortisation and impairment (3,856) (1,388) (6,601) (909) (12,754)

Total as at 1 July 2020 21,745 1,727 381 999 24,852

Additions Purchased - 1,314 587 720 2,621

Revaluation increment recognised in other comprehensive income 202 54 - - 256

Impairment recognised in net cost of services - - - (167) (167)

Reversal of impairments recognised in net cost of services - 185 - - 185

Depreciation and amortisation (993) (648) (144) (68) (1,853)

Depreciation on right-of-use assets (2,769) (143) - - (2,912)

Other movements Intangible assets - - 250 (250) -

Other movements of right-of-use assets 29 2 - - 31

Disposals (Net Book Value) - (14) - - (14)

Total as at 30 June 2021 18,214 2,477 1,074 1,234 22,999

Total as at 30 June 2021 represented by Gross book value 23,692 2,900 7,819 1,847 36,258

Accumulated depreciation, amortisation and impairment (5,478) (423) (6,745) (613) (13,259)

Total as at 30 June 2021 18,214 2,477 1,074 1,234 22,999

Total intangible assets

Carrying amount of right-of-use assets included in the above total 13,344 106 - - 13,450

Accounting policy Acquisition of Assets

Asset Recognition Threshold

Lease Right-of-use (ROU) Assets

Assets are recorded at cost on acquisition except as stated below. The cost of acquisition includes the fair value of assets transferred in exchange and liabilities undertaken. Financial assets are initially measured at their fair value plus transaction costs where appropriate.

Leased ROU assets are capitalised at the commencement date of the lease and comprise of the initial lease liability amount, initial direct costs incurred when entering into the lease less any lease incentives received. These assets are accounted for as separate asset classes to corresponding assets owned outright, but included in the same column as where the corresponding underlying assets would be presented if they were owned.

The initial cost of an ROU asset also includes an estimate of the cost of dismantling and removing the item and restoring the site on which it is located. This is particularly relevant to ‘make good’ provisions in property leases taken up by the Authority where there exists an obligation to restore the property to its original condition. These costs are included in the value of the Authority's ROU assets and leasehold improvements (recognised prior to the adoption of AASB 16) with a corresponding provision for the ‘make good’ recognised.

Assets acquired at no cost, or for nominal consideration, are initially recognised as assets and income at their fair value at the date of acquisition, unless acquired as a consequence of restructuring of administrative arrangements. In the latter case, assets are initially recognised as contributions by owners at the amounts at which they were recognised in the transferor’s accounts immediately prior to the restructuring.

Purchases of property, plant and equipment are recognised initially at cost in the statement of financial position, except for purchases costing less than $2,000, which are expensed in the year of acquisition (other than where these items form part of a group of similar items which are significant in total).

There is no commitment or expectation to dispose or sell any leasehold improvement, property, plant and equipment or intangible assets within the next 12 months.

There is a capital commitment value of $35,000 expected within the next 12 months (2020: $226,000).

1 The carrying amount of computer software in-use includes purchased and internally developed software.

2,308

Intangible assets

Revaluation of non-financial assets All revaluations were conducted in accordance with the revaluation policy stated at Note 2.2. On 31 March 2021, an independent valuer, Deloitte Touche and Tohmatsu, conducted the fair value assessment of the carrying values of all leasehold improvements and property, plant and equipment assets, excluding right of use assets.

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Accounting policy (continued) Revaluation

Depreciation

Asset Class 2021 2020

Computers and IT equipment 3-7 years 3-7 years

Office equipment 6-9 years 6-9 years

Leasehold improvements Lease term Lease term

Data sets 3-20 years 3-20 years

Software applications 2-4 years 2-4 years

Software licences Length of licence Length of licence

Impairment

Derecognition

Intangibles

All assets were assessed for indications of impairment at 30 June 2021. Where indications of impairment exist, each asset’s recoverable amount is estimated and an impairment adjustment made if the asset’s recoverable amount is less than its carrying amount. The recoverable amount of an asset is the higher of its fair value less costs of disposal and its value in use. Value in use is the present value of the future cash flows expected to be derived from the asset. Where the future economic benefit of an asset is not primarily dependent on the asset’s ability to generate future cash flows, and the asset would be replaced if the Authority were deprived of the asset, its value in use is taken to be its depreciated replacement cost.

An item of property, plant and equipment is derecognised upon disposal or when no further future economic benefits are expected from its use or disposal.

All leasehold improvements and property, plant and equipment assets were reviewed and assessed for fair value in March 2021 by an independent valuer, Deloitte Touche and Tohmatsu.

The Authority’s intangibles comprise internally developed software, acquired data-sets for internal use and software licences. These assets are carried at cost less accumulated amortisation and accumulated impairment losses.

The depreciation rates for ROU assets are based on the commencement date to the earlier of the end of the useful life of the ROU asset or the end of the lease term.

Depreciation rates (useful lives), residual values and methods are reviewed at each reporting date and necessary adjustments are recognised in the current, or current and future reporting periods, as appropriate.

Any accumulated depreciation as at the revaluation date is eliminated against the gross carrying amount of the asset and the asset restated to the revalued amount.

All intangible assets in use are amortised on a straight-line basis over its anticipated useful life. All intangible assets were assessed by the Authority for indications of impairment as at 30 June 2021.

Depreciation and/or amortisation rates applying to each class of asset are based on the following useful lives:

Following initial recognition at cost, property, plant and equipment (excluding ROU assets) is carried at fair value less subsequent accumulated depreciation and accumulated impairment losses. Valuations are conducted with sufficient frequency to ensure the carrying amounts of assets do not differ materially from the assets’ fair values as at the reporting date. The regularity of independent valuations depends upon the volatility of movements in market values for the relevant assets.

Depreciable property, plant and equipment assets are written-off to their estimated residual values over their estimated useful lives using the straight-line method of depreciation.

Revaluation adjustments are made on a class basis. Any revaluation increment is credited to equity under the heading of asset revaluation reserve except to the extent that it reverses a previous revaluation decrement of the same asset class that was previously recognised in the surplus/deficit. Revaluation decrements for a class of assets are recognised directly in the surplus/deficit except to the extent that these amounts reverse a previous revaluation increment for that class.

Note 2.3: Payables

2021 2020

$’000 $’000

Note 2.3A: Suppliers Trade creditors and accruals 17,844 21,176

Total suppliers 17,844 21,176

Note 2.3B: Other Payables Wages and salaries 856 1,193

Superannuation 103 77

Prepayments received/unearned income 548 639

Total other payables 1,507 1,909

Accounting policy

The Authority's financial liabilities consist of trade creditors and expense accruals. These liabilities are recognised at their nominal amounts, being the amounts at which the Authority expects the liabilities will be settled. Liabilities are recognised to the extent the goods or services have been received (and irrespective of having been invoiced).

Unearned income represents assets received from another party in advance of the Authority fulfilling its contracted obligations. The Authority releases unearned income to revenue when the services required to be performed have been performed.

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Note 2.4: Leases

2021 2020

$’000 $’000

Note 2.4: Leases Lease liabilities 14,228 16,693

Total leases 14,228 16,693

Total cash outflow for leases for the year ended 30 June 2021 was $2,784,538 (2020: $2,407,776).

Maturity analysis - contractual undiscounted cash flows Within 1 year 2,754 2,785

Between 1 to 5 years 10,339 10,613

More than 5 years 1,912 4,393

Total leases 15,005 17,790

Accounting Policy

The above lease disclosures should be read in conjunction with the accompanying notes 1.1B, 1.1E and 2.2.

For all new contracts entered into, the Authority considers whether the contract is, or contains a lease. A lease is defined as ‘a contract, or part of a contract, that conveys the right to use an asset (the underlying asset) for a period of time in exchange for consideration’.

Once it has been determined that a contract is, or contains a lease, the lease liability is initially measured at the present value of the lease payments unpaid at the commencement date, discounted using the interest rate implicit in the lease, if that rate is readily determinable, or the Authority’s incremental borrowing rate.

Subsequent to initial measurement, the liability will be reduced for payments made and increased for interest unwound. It is remeasured to reflect any reassessment or modification to the lease. When the lease liability is remeasured, the corresponding adjustment is reflected in the right-of-use asset or profit and loss depending on the nature of the reassessment or modification.

The Authority in its capacity as lessee has leases for office accommodation in Griffith, Mildura, Murray Bridge, and at 33 Allara Street in Canberra. The leases at 33 Allara Street Canberra include office accommodation and carparking.

Lease payments are subject to annual increases of 3% in the Griffith, Mildura and Murray Bridge Offices, and a fixed annual rate increase of 3.75% in the Canberra premises located at 33 Allara Street. These lease agreements are non-cancellable in the normal course of business.

Note 2.5: Other Provisions

2021 2020

$’000 $’000

Note 2.5: Other Provisions Provision for make good 1,063 1,205

Total other provisions 1,063 1,205

Provision for make good Total

$’000 $’000

Carrying amount 1 July 2020 1,205 1,205

Unwinding of discount or change in discount rate 20 20

Changes in provision (162) (162)

Closing balance 30 June 2021 1,063 1,063

The Authority currently has 2 (2020: 2) agreements for the leasing of premises which have provisions requiring the Authority to make good the premises at the conclusion of the lease. The Authority has made a provision to reflect the present value of these obligations.

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People and Relationships

Note 3.1: Employee Provisions

2021 2020

$’000 $’000

Note 3.1: Employee Provisions Leave and other entitlements 12,120 10,921

Total employee provisions 12,120 10,921

Accounting policy

Leave

Superannuation

This section describes a range of employment and post employment benefits provided to our people and our relationships with other key people.

Liabilities for ‘short-term employee benefits’ (as defined in AASB 119 Employee Benefits ) and termination benefits due within twelve months of the end of reporting period are measured at their nominal amounts.

The nominal amount is calculated with regard to the rates expected to be paid on settlement of the liability.

Other long-term employee benefits are measured at the present value of the defined benefit obligation at the end of the reporting period.

The liability for employee benefits includes provision for annual leave and long service leave. No provision has been made for sick leave as all sick leave is non-vesting and the average sick leave taken in future years by employees of the Authority is estimated to be less than the annual entitlement for sick leave.

The leave liabilities are calculated on the basis of employees’ remuneration at the estimated salary rates that will be applied at the time the leave is taken, including the Authority’s employer superannuation contribution rates to the extent the leave is likely to be taken during service rather than paid out on termination.

The liability for long service leave has been determined using the Shorthand Method as per the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Financial Reporting) Rule (FRR) and Commonwealth Entity Financial Statements Guide. The estimate of the present value of the liability takes into account attrition rates and pay increases through promotion and inflation.

The Authority's staff are members of the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS), the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (PSS), the PSS accumulation plan (PSSap) or other employee nominated superannuation funds.

The CSS and PSS are defined benefit schemes for the Australian Government. The remaining funds are defined contribution schemes.

The liability for defined benefits is recognised in the financial statements of the Australian Government and is settled by the Australian Government in due course. This liability is reported in the Department of Finance’s administered schedules and notes.

The Authority makes employer contributions to the employees' superannuation schemes at rates determined by an actuary to be sufficient to meet the current cost to the Government. The Authority accounts for the contributions as if they were contributions to defined contribution plans.

The liability for superannuation recognised as at 30 June represents outstanding contributions at the end of the reporting period. This amount is disclosed in Note 2.3B.

The Authority also contributes to a number of complying funds to discharge the Authority’s liability in regard to individual employees and the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 as well as to facilitate the salary sacrifice options of employees.

Note 3.2: Key Management Personnel Remuneration

2021 2020

$’000 $’000

Short-term employee benefits 1,917 2,086

Other long-term employee benefits 65 105

Post-employment benefits 286 302

Total key management personnel remuneration expenses1 2,268 2,493

Note 3.3: Related Party Disclosures

Related party relationships:

Transactions with related parties:

Key management personnel are those persons having authority and responsibility for planning, directing and controlling the activities of the entity, directly or indirectly, including any director (whether executive or otherwise) of that entity. The Authority has determined the key management personnel to include the Minister for Resources and Water, Authority members, the Chief Executive and Portfolio Leads within the Authority and any staff member who has acted in one of the portfolio lead roles for longer than three months. Key management personnel remuneration is reported in the table below:

1. The above key management personnel remuneration excludes the remuneration and other benefits of the Portfolio Minister. The Portfolio Minister's remuneration and other benefits are set by the Remuneration Tribunal and are not paid by the entity.

The Authority is an Australian Government controlled entity. Related parties to this entity are Key Management Personnel (as detailed in Note 3.2), Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, Minister for the Environment, Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Ministerial Council, the Living Murray Initiatives & River Management Operations joint ventures and other Australian Government entities.

Given the breadth of Government activities, related parties may transact with the government sector in the same capacity as ordinary citizens. Such transactions include the payment or refund of taxes, receipt of a Medicare rebate or higher education loans. These transactions have not been separately disclosed in this disclosure note. The Authority does not pay any member of the Ministerial Council for the services they provide to the Authority under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.

There were no transactions with related parties during the 2021 financial year (2020: Nil).

The total number of key management personnel included in the above table is 10 (2020: 10).

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Managing uncertainties

Note 4.1: Contingent Assets and Liabilities

There are no contingent assets or liabilities in the current or prior financial year.

Quantifiable Contingencies

Unquantifiable Contingencies

Accounting policy

This section analyses how the Authority manages financial risks within its operating environment.

There were no estimated contingent liabilities as at 30 June 2021.

Under Section 239F of the Water Act 2007, the liabilities of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (the Commission) became liabilities of the Authority. These liabilities pertain to the former Commission and include any liability, duty or obligation, whether contingent or prospective; but does not include a liability, duty or obligation imposed by:

There is one unquantifiable contingent liability that relates to a claim asserting negligence in relation to the Authority and Authority delegates' performance of function under the Water Act 2007 (Cth). Damages are unquantifiable. The Authority's insurer Comcover has been notified of this claim.

• an Act; or • regulations or other subordinate legislation made under an Act; or • the Murray-Darling Basin Act 1992 of New South Wales; or • the Murray-Darling Basin Act 1993 of Victoria; or

Contingent liabilities and contingent assets are not recognised in the statement of financial position but are reported in the disclosure notes. These may arise from uncertainty as to the existence of a liability or asset or represent an asset or liability in respect of which the amount cannot be reliably measured. Contingent assets are disclosed when settlement is probable but not virtually certain and contingent liabilities are disclosed when settlement is greater than remote.

• the Murray-Darling Basin Act 1996 of Queensland; or • the Murray-Darling Basin Act 1993 of South Australia; or • the former Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.

There were no such unquantifiable contingencies during the 2021 financial year (2020: Nil).

Note 4.2: Financial Instruments

2021 2020

$'000 $'000

Note 4.2: Categories of Financial Instruments Financial assets measured at amortised cost Cash and cash equivalents 154,063 147,005

Trade and other receivables 1,918 869

Total financial assets at amortised cost 155,981 147,874

Total financial assets 155,981 147,874

Financial Liabilities Financial liabilities measured at amortised cost Trade creditors and accruals 17,844 21,176

Total financial liabilities measured at amortised cost 17,844 21,176

Total financial liabilities 17,844 21,176

Accounting policy Financial Assets The entity classifies its financial assets in the following categories: a) financial assets at fair value through profit or loss; b) financial assets at fair value through other comprehensive income; and c) financial assets measured at amortised cost. The classification depends on both the entity's business model for managing the financial assets and contractual cash flow characteristics at the time of initial recognition. Financial assets are recognised when the entity becomes a party to the contract and, as a consequence, has a legal right to receive or a legal obligation to pay cash and derecognised when the contractual rights to the cash flows from the financial asset expire or are transferred upon trade date.

Financial Assets at Amortised Cost Financial assets included in this category need to meet two criteria: 1. the financial asset is held in order to collect the contractual cash flows; and 2. the cash flows are solely payments of principal and interest (SPPI) on the principal outstanding amount. Amortised cost is determined using the effective interest method.

Impairment of Financial Assets Financial assets are assessed for impairment at the end of each reporting period based on Expected Credit Losses, using the general approach which measures the loss allowance based on an amount equal to lifetime expected credit losses where risk has significantly increased, or an amount equal to 12-month expected credit losses if risk has not increased. The simplified approach for trade and other receivables is used. This approach always measures the loss allowance as the amount equal to the lifetime expected credit losses. A write-off constitutes a derecognition event where the write-off directly reduces the gross carrying amount of the financial asset.

Effective Interest Method Income is recognised on an effective interest rate basis for financial assets that are recognised at amortised cost.

Financial Liabilities Financial liabilities are classified as either financial liabilities ‘at fair value through profit or loss’ or other financial liabilities.

Financial Liabilities at Amortised Cost Financial liabilities are recognised and derecognised upon ‘trade date’. Financial liabilities, including borrowings, are initially measured at fair value, net of transaction costs. These liabilities are subsequently measured at amortised cost using the effective interest method, with interest expense recognised on an effective interest basis. Supplier and other payables are recognised at amortised cost. Liabilities are recognised to the extent that the goods or services have been received (and irrespective of having been invoiced).

The Authority only holds financial instruments carried at amortised cost.

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Note 4.3: Fair Value Measurements

Accounting policy

Note 4.3: Fair Value Measurements

2021 2020

$'000 $'000

ASSETS Assets measured at fair value on a recurring basis Buildings 18,214 21,745

Other property, plant and equipment 2,477 1,727

Total assets measured at fair value 20,691 23,472

Assets measured at other than fair value, but approximate fair value1 Cash and cash equivalents 154,063 147,005

Trade and other receivables 4,833 3,637

Total assets measured at other than fair value, but approximate fair value 158,896 150,642

Assets measured at cost

Intangibles 2,308 1,380

Other non-financial assets 468 842

Total assets measured at cost 2,776 2,222

Total assets stated in the Statement of Financial Position 182,363 176,336

LIABILITIES Liabilities measured at fair value Provision for make good 1,063 1,205

Total liabilities measured at fair value 1,063 1,205

Liabilities measured at other than fair value, but approximate fair value 1

Suppliers 17,844 21,176

Other payables 1,507 1,909

Total liabilities measured at other than fair value, but approximate fair value 19,351 23,085

Liabilities measured at cost

Lease liabilities 14,228 16,693

Employee provisions 12,120 10,921

Total liabilities measured at cost 26,348 27,614

Total liabilities stated in the Statement of Financial Position 46,762 51,904

The Authority's assets are held for operational purposes and not held for the purposes of deriving a profit. The current use of all non-financial assets is considered their highest and best use.

The Authority's policy is to recognise transfers into and transfers out of fair value hierarchy levels as at the end of the reporting period. There have been no transfers between level 1 and level 2 of the hierarchy during the year.

1. These items' carrying amounts equate to their fair values.

Fair value measurements

Other information

2021 2020

$'000 $'000

Note 4.4: Current/non-current distinction for assets and liabilities Assets expected to be recovered in:

No more than 12 months Cash and cash equivalents 154,063 147,005

Trade and other receivables 4,833 3,637

Prepayments 465 798

Total no more than 12 months 159,361 151,440

More than 12 months Buildings 18,214 21,745

Property, plant and equipment 2,477 1,727

Intangibles 2,308 1,380

Prepayments 3 44

Total more than 12 months 23,002 24,896

Total assets 182,363 176,336

Liabilities expected to be settled in:

No more than 12 months Suppliers 17,844 21,176

Other payables 1,507 1,909

Employee provisions 4,422 3,933

Lease liabilities 2,510 2,483

Total no more than 12 months 26,283 29,501

More than 12 months Other provisions 1,063 1,205

Employee provisions 7,698 6,987

Lease liabilities 11,718 14,211

Total more than 12 months 20,479 22,403

Total liabilities 46,762 51,904

Note 4.4: Current/non-current distinction for assets and liabilities

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Budget Variances

Note 5: Explanations of Major Budget Variances

The budget is not audited.

Variances are considered to be ‘major’ if these amounts are core to the Authority's activities and based on the following criteria: • the variance between budget and actual is greater than +/- 10% of the Original Budget for a line item; and • the variance between budget and actual is greater than $1,000,000; or • an item is below this threshold but is considered important for the reader’s understanding or is relevant to an assessment of the discharge of accountability and to an analysis of the Authority's performance.

For 2020-21 the Authority was allocated decentralisation capital funding for ICT and Data projects. The primary focus of this allocation was to complete the projects commenced under the ICT strategy in 2019-20, and to finalise a data strategy so that data projects can be commenced. Most of the ICT projects to support the Authority’s regionalisation initiative were completed in 2020-21 with residual projects to be completed in 2021-22. Due to Data strategy not being finalised until December 2020, commencement of some of the data investments were delayed and not delivered in 2020-21 resulting in actual expenditure being lower than budgeted.

Statement of Comprehensive Income: - Supplier

Statement of Financial Position: - Cash and cash equivalents - Intangibles

Cash Flow Statement: - Purchase of intangible assets

Budget Variance Explanation Affected statements and line

items

The Authority experienced significant fluctuations in its spending in comparison to the Original Budget due to the complex nature of the joint programs. This complexity reflects a high level of inherent risk associated with capital construction and environmental projects.

The joint program variance to the budget was primarily due to the underspends relating to the State Constructing Authorities (SCA). These are uncontrollable items for the Authority and are heavily reliant on the capacity of each SCA to deliver routine maintenance and key construction and planned maintenance projects which can be impacted by procurement issues, environmental conditions, access to construction sites and technical resource availability. Underspends by SCA’s are mostly delays in the completion of construction and maintenance projects and will require a carryover of the unspent budget appropriation funding. In addition, underspends in the joint programs were also due to the COVID-19 related restrictions in place which:

- prevented timely procurement of resources, or conducting workshops across Jurisdictions - delayed delivery of vehicles, plant and equipment from overseas and its flow on impact on the activities dependent upon these items - limited availability of key building material such as steel and timber - limited access to appropriate resources to undertake a number of construction activities across various sites particularly where cross state border travel was required.

During 2020-21, there were delays in the completion of major construction projects as described below: - challenges associated with the change in scope of Hume irrigation outlet Bell mouth & penstock repair work resulted in slowing down the Hume emergency closure gates and penstock work - The Hume gate painting due to Work Health and Safety issues related to transporting the gate.

Lower water allocations resulted in less usage for The Living Murray program with an associated reduction in water usage fees.

The underspend on the above projects is offset by additional expenditure on: - investigations on the replacement on the Hume concrete trash rack - completion of the Goolwa swing bridge upgrade - increased planned maintenance on the South Australian salt interception schemes - completion of the SA Berri Office upgrade - undertake the approved environmental watering event on the Chowilla floodplain - dredging at the Murray mouth.

In preparation of the Budget, estimates were made for the allocation of expenses between suppliers and grants. Actual expenditure between these two categories were slightly different to the budget allocation.

Employee benefits are lower than budget due to higher Voluntary redundancy (VR) payments than actual payments made. A new capability based operating model was implemented and as a result the number of VRs offered was reduced.

Due to continued COVID restrictions, employee provisions are higher than budgeted as employees did not use as much leave entitlements as previous years.

Revenue from contributions from jurisdictions is lower than budgeted due to some jurisdictions utilising prior year underspends.

Statement of Comprehensive Income: - Suppliers - Grants - Contribution from Jurisdictions - Employee Benefits

Statement of Financial Position: - Cash and cash equivalents - Suppliers - Other payables - Employee provisions

Cash Flow Statement: - Net GST received - Suppliers - Grants

The Authority received funding from arrangements with Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment (DAWE) during the year which were not in the 2020-21 Budget. These include: - Enhance Environmental Water Delivery - Northern Basin Camera Project

The Authority received proceeds from sale of land for the Joint Venture that was not in the original budget Overall cash balance is higher than the budgeted amount due to lower than expected joint program expenditure and lower planned capital expenditure, and funding received under a number of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2020-21 to be spent in forward years.

Despite the increase in bank balances, interest revenue significantly decreased during the year as a result of zero interest on funds held at Reserve Bank of Australia from November 2020.

Note 5: Explanations of Major Budget Variances - continued

Statement of Comprehensive Income: - Other revenue - Interest

Statement of Financial Position: - Cash and cash equivalents - Trade and other receivables

Cash Flow Statement: - Other cash received

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Appendices

Glossary 142

Abbreviations 145

Annual report requirements 147

Details of accountable authority

during the r eporting period 2020-21 150

Inde x 154

Glossary

Australian National Committee on Large Dams

An incorporated voluntary association of

organisations and individual professionals with an

interest in dams in Australia.

Barmah Choke

A narrow section of the River Murray that constrains

the volume of water that can pass during major

floods. During floods, large volumes of water are

temporarily banked up behind the Barmah Choke,

flooding the Barmah-Millewa Forest wetland system.

Barrages

Five low and wide weirs built at the Murray Mouth

in South Australia to reduce the amount of sea

water flowing in and out of the mouth due to tidal

movement, and to help control water levels in

the Lower Lakes and River Murray below Lock 1

(Blanchetown, South Australia).

Baseline

Conditions regarded as a reference point for the

purpose of comparison.

Baseline diversion limit

The baseline limit of take from a sustainable

diversion limit resource unit.

Basin governments

The Australian Government and the governments

of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South

Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

Basin states

New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South

Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

Basin water resources

Water resources within or beneath the

Murray-Darling Basin, except for resources that

are prescribed by the regulations and groundwater

that forms part of the Great Artesian Basin.

Cap (the Cap on Diversions)

A limit, implemented in 1997, on the volume of

surface water that can be diverted from rivers for

consumptive use. Under the Basin Plan, the Cap is

replaced by long-term average sustainable diversion

limits.

Connectivity

Connections between natural habitats, such as

between a river channel and adjacent wetland areas.

Connectivity is a measure or indicator of whether

a water body (river, wetland, floodplain) has water

connections or flow connections to another body.

Constraints

Anything that affects the delivery of water for the

environment. Constraints can be physical, such as

low-lying bridges and river channel capacity; or

operational, such as river rules or operating practices

that affect when and how much water can be

delivered.

Conveyance water

The water needed to physically run the river system.

Extra water must then be supplied on top of the

conveyance water in order to meet deliveries along

the river system. The conveyance reserve is water

set aside for the next year to minimise the risk of not

having enough conveyance water. Water is set aside

water for conveyance and critical human needs to

safeguard fundamental water requirements during a

drought more severe than the Millennium drought.

Critical human water needs

Under the Water Act 2007 (the Water Act), the

minimum amount of water required to meet core

requirements of communities dependent on Basin

water resources. The definition also includes

non-human requirements that, if not met, would

cause prohibitively high social, economic or national

security costs.

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Cultural flows (or cultural water flows)

Water entitlements legally and beneficially owned

by the Aboriginal Nations of the Murray-Darling

Basin. They are of sufficient and adequate quantity

and quality to improve the spiritual, cultural,

environmental, social and economic conditions of

Aboriginal people.

Electrical conductivity (EC)

A unit of measurement for electrical conductivity

(1 EC = 1 μS/cm) measured at 25 degrees Celsius. It

is commonly used as an indicator of water and soil

salinity (salt concentration). Water and soil salinity

levels are measured by passing an electrical current

between the two electrodes of a salinity meter. EC is

influenced by the concentration and composition of

dissolved salts. Salts increase the ability of a solution

to conduct an electric current, so a high EC indicates

a high salinity level. Fresh water above 800 EC

becomes marginal for drinking; above 1,600 EC it is

brackish; and above 4,800 EC it is saline.

Entitlement (or water entitlement)

The volume of water authorised to be taken and

used by an irrigator or water authority. It includes

bulk entitlements, environmental entitlements,

water rights, sales water and surface water and

groundwater licences.

Environmental flow

Any river flow pattern provided with the intention of

maintaining or improving river health.

Environmental water

Water used to achieve environmental outcomes,

including benefits to ecosystem functions,

biodiversity, water quality and water resource

health.

Environmental water requirement

The amount of water needed to meet an ecological

or environmental objective.

Fishway

A structure that provides fish with passage past an

obstruction in a stream.

Flow

The movement of water — the rate of water

discharged from a source, given in volume with

respect to time.

Flow event

A single occurrence of water flow in a river,

sometimes required to achieve environmental

targets. A series of flow events comprises a flow

history.

Groundwater

Water occurring naturally below ground level (in an

aquifer or otherwise).

Held environmental water

Water that is available under a water access right,

a water delivery right or an irrigation right for the

purpose of achieving environmental outcomes.

Inflow

The source of the water that flows into a specific

body of water. For a lake, the inflow could be a

stream or river; for a stream or river, the inflow

could be rain.

Irrigator

An irrigator is a primary producer who uses river

water to irrigate crops or water livestock.

Irrigation infrastructure operator

An irrigation infrastructure operator owns or

operates water service infrastructure for delivering

water for the primary purpose of irrigation.

Modelling

Application of a mathematical process or simulation

framework (e.g. a mathematical or econometric

model) to describe various phenomena and analyse

the effects of changes in some characteristics on

others.

Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations

(MLDRIN)

Confederation formed in 1998 of Indigenous Nations

from the southern part of the Basin. It comprises

representatives of the Barapa Barapa, Dhudhuroa,

Dja Dja Wurrung, Latji Latji, Maraura, Mutti Mutti,

Nari Nari, Ngarrindjeri, Ngaywang, Ngintait,

Ngunawal, Nyeri Nyeri, Tatti Tatti, Taungurung,

Wadi Wadi, Wamba Wamba, Waywurru, Wegi

Wegi, Wergaia, Wiradjuri, Wolgalu, Wotjabaluk,

Yaitmathang and Yita Yita.

Glossary | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 143

144 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Glossary

Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN)

Confederation formed in April 2010 that comprises

Aboriginal Nation representatives from the northern

part of the Basin. It comprises Traditional Owner

nominated representatives from the Barunggam,

Bidjara, Bigambul, Budjiti, Euahlayi, Githabul,

Gomeroi, Gunggari, Gwamu (Kooma), Jarowair,

Kambuwal, Kunja, Kwiambul, Mandandanji, Mardigan,

Murrawarri, Ngemba, Ngiyampaa, Wailwan and

Wakka Wakka Nations.

Ramsar Convention

The Convention on Wetlands of International

Importance, an intergovernmental treaty that

provides the framework for national action and

international cooperation for the conservation and

wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Regulated

A water system in which water is stored and/or flow

levels are controlled through the use of structures

such as dams and weirs.

Salt interception schemes (SIS)

Large-scale groundwater pumping and drainage

projects that intercept saline groundwater flowing

into rivers, and dispose of the saline waters by

evaporation and aquifer storage at more distant

locations.

Surface water

Includes water in a watercourse, lake or wetland,

and any water flowing over or lying on the land

after having precipitated naturally or risen to the

surface naturally from underground (see s 4 of

the Water Act). The maximum long-term annual

average quantities of water that can be taken, on a

sustainable basis, from the Basin water resources

as a whole, and the water resources, or particular

parts of the water resources, of each water resource

plan area.

Sustainable diversion limit (SDL)

The maximum long-term annual average quantity of

water that can be taken, on a sustainable basis, from

the Basin water resources as a whole, and the water

resources, or particular parts of the water resources,

of each water resource plan area.

Sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism

(SDLAM)

Basin Plan provision that allows for adjustment

of the sustainable diversion limit under certain

circumstances.

Take [water]

Removal of water from, or reduction in flow of water

into, a water resource.

Water accounting

A systematic process of identifying, recognising,

quantifying, reporting and assuring information

about water, the rights or other claims to water, and

the obligations against water.

Water access licence

Water access licences entitle licence holders:

• to specified shares in the available water within

a particular water management area or water

source (the share component)

• to take water at specified times, rates or

circumstances from specified areas or locations

(the extraction component).

Water allocation

The water to which the holder of a water access

licence is entitled from time to time under licence,

as recorded in the water allocation account for

the licence.

Abbreviations

ABARES Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences

ACCC Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

ACIAR Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

ACSEES Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences

AELERT Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators neTwork

APS Australian Public Service

BCC Basin Community Committee

BOC Basin Officials Committee

BoM Bureau of Meteorology

BSM2030 Basin Salinity Management 2030

BPIC Basin Plan Implementation Committee

CEWH Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder

CEWO Commonwealth Environmental Water Office

CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and industrial Research Organisation

DAWE (Australian Government) Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

EAP emergency action plan

EWC Environmental Water Committee

FNEWG First Nations Environmental Water Guidance project

GL gigalitre (one billion litres)

GW groundwater

HEW held environmental water

IAC (Compliance) Independent Assurance Committee

IGA Intergovernmental Agreement on Implementing Water Reform in the Murray Darling Basin

IGWC Inspector-General of Water Compliance

IRORG Independent River Operations Review Group

KPI key performance indicator

MDBA/ the Authority Murray-Darling Basin Authority - the agency/the 7-member Authority

Abbreviations | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 145

146 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Abbreviations

MD-WERP Murray-Darling Water and Environment Research Program

Ministerial Council Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council

ML megalitre (one million litres)

MLDRIN Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations

NBAN Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations

NBEWG Northern Basin Environmental Watering Group

NBPC Northern Basin Project Committee

OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

PGPA Act Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth)

PwC PricewaterhouseCoopers

RAP Reconciliation Action Plan

REO Regional Engagement Officer

RMO River Murray Operations

RMOC River Murray Operations Committee

RMWQMP River Murray Water Quality Monitoring Program

SCBEWC Southern Connected Basin Environmental Watering Committee

SCC Strengthening Connections Committee

SDL sustainable diversion limit

SDLAM SDL adjustment mechanism

SW surface water

WQAP Water Quality Advisory Panel

WRP water resource plan

Annual report requirements

PGPA Rule reference

Part of report Description Requirement

17BE Contents of the annual report

17BE(a) 14 Details of the legislation establishing the body Mandatory

17BE(b)(i) 14 A summary of the objects and functions of the entity as

set out in legislation

Mandatory

17BE(b)(ii) 13, 23 The purposes of the entity as included in the entity’s

corporate plan for the reporting period

Mandatory

17BE(c) 14, 76 The names of the persons holding the position of

responsible Minister or responsible Ministers during

the reporting period, and the titles of those responsible

Ministers

Mandatory

17BE(d) 95 Directions given to the entity by the Minister under an

Act or instrument during the reporting period

If applicable,

mandatory

17BE(e) 95 Any government policy order that applied in relation to

the entity during the reporting period under section 22

of the Act

If applicable,

mandatory

17BE(f) 95 Particulars of non-compliance with:

a. a direction given to the entity by the Minister under

an Act or instrument during the reporting period

or

b. a government policy order that applied in relation to

the entity during the reporting period under section

22 of the Act

If applicable,

mandatory

17BE(g) 22-72 Annual performance statements in accordance with

paragraph 39(1)(b) of the Act and section 16F of the

rule

Mandatory

17BE(h),

17BE(i)

91 A statement of significant issues reported to the

Minister under paragraph 19(1)(e) of the Act that

relates to non-compliance with finance law and action

taken to remedy non-compliance

If applicable,

mandatory

17BE(j) 77-78

150-153

Information on the accountable authority, or each

member of the accountable authority, of the entity

during the reporting period

Mandatory

17BE(k) 83-87 Outline of the organisational structure of the entity

(including any subsidiaries of the entity)

Mandatory

Annual report requirements | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 147

148 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Annual report requirements

PGPA Rule reference

Part of report Description Requirement

17BE(ka) 17

102-103

Statistics on the entity’s employees on an ongoing and

non-ongoing basis, including the following:

a. statistics on full-time employees

b. statistics on part-time employees

c. statistics on gender

d. statistics on staff location.

Mandatory

17BE(l) 17 Outline of the location (whether or not in Australia) of

major activities or facilities of the entity

Mandatory

17BE(m) 87-103 Information relating to the major corporate governance

practices used by the entity during the reporting period

Mandatory

17BE(n), BE(o) N/A For transactions with a related Commonwealth entity

or related company where the value of the transaction,

or if there is more than one transaction, the aggregate

of those transactions, is more than $10,000 (inclusive

of GST)

a. the decision-making process undertaken by the

accountable authority to approve the entity paying

for a good or service from, or providing a grant

to, the related Commonwealth entity or related

company; and

b. the value of the transaction, or if there is more than

one transaction, the number of transactions and the

aggregate of value of the transactions

If applicable,

mandatory

17BE(p) 4-7 Any significant activities and changes that affected

the operation or structure of the entity during the

reporting period

If applicable,

mandatory

17BE(q) 94 Particulars of judicial decisions or decisions of

administrative tribunals that may have a significant

effect on the operations of the entity

If applicable,

mandatory

17BE(r) 94 Particulars of any reports on the entity given by:

a. the Auditor-General (other than a report under

section 43 of the Act); or

b. a Parliamentary Committee; or

c. the Commonwealth Ombudsman; or

d. the Office of the Australian Information

Commissioner

If applicable,

mandatory

17BE(s) N/A An explanation of information not obtained from a

subsidiary of the entity and the effect of not having the

information on the annual report

If applicable,

mandatory

PGPA Rule reference

Part of report Description Requirement

17BE(t) N/A Details of any indemnity that applied during the

reporting period to the accountable authority, or any

member of the accountable authority or officer of the

entity against a liability (including premiums paid, or

agreed to be paid, for insurance against the authority

member or officer’s liability for legal costs)

If applicable,

mandatory

17BE(taa) 91-94 The following information about the audit committee

for the entity:

a. a direct electronic address of the charter

determining the functions of the audit committee;

b. the name of each member of the audit committee;

c. the qualifications, knowledge, skills or experience of

each member of the audit committee;

d. information about each member’s attendance at

meetings of the audit committee;

e. the remuneration of each member of the audit

committee

Mandatory

17BE(ta) 103-105 Information about executive remuneration Mandatory

17BF Disclosure requirements for government business enterprises

17BF(1)(a)(i) N/A An assessment of significant changes in the entity’s

overall financial structure and financial conditions

If applicable,

mandatory

17BF(1)(a)(ii) N/A An assessment of any events or risks that could

cause financial information that is reported not to be

indicative of future operations or financial conditions

If applicable,

mandatory

17BF(1)(b) N/A Information on dividends paid or recommended If applicable,

mandatory

17BF(1)(c) N/A Details of any community service obligations the

government business enterprise has including:

a. an outline of actions taken to fulfil those obligations;

and

b. an assessment of the cost of fulfilling those

obligations

If applicable,

mandatory

17BF(2) N/A A statement regarding the exclusion of information

on the grounds that the information is commercially

sensitive and would be likely to result in unreasonable

commercial prejudice to the government business

enterprise

If applicable,

mandatory

Annual report requirements | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 149

Details of accountable authority during the reporting period 2020-21

Name Qualifications

of the accountable authority

Experience of the accountable authority Position title/

Position held

Executive/ Non-Executive

Period as the accountable authority or member within the reporting period

Date of commence-ment

Date of cessation

Number of meetings of accountable authority attended

Air Chief

Marshal

Sir Angus

Houston

hief Marshal

Sir Angus

Houston

Honorary

doctorates

from

University

of NSW,

Australian

National

University,

University of

SA, Griffith

University

Sir Angus is Chancellor

for the University of

the Sunshine Coast and

chairs many boards

including the Authority.

He was awarded the

Knight of the Order of

Australia in 2015 for

outstanding service

to Australia. Sir Angus

served for 41 years in

the Australian Defence

Force including holding

the positions of Chief

of the Australian

Defence Force from

2005 to 2011 and

Chief of the Air Force.

Chairman/

Non-Executive

8 August

2020

6 August

2024

13

150 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Details of accountable authority during the reporting period 2020-21

Name Qualifications

of the accountable authority

Experience of the accountable authority Position title/

Position held

Executive/ Non-Executive

Period as the accountable authority or member within the reporting period

Date of commence-ment

Date of cessation

Number of meetings of accountable authority attended

Professor

Stuart Bunn

PhD Professor Bunn

is Director of the

Australian Rivers

Institute at Griffith

University, Chair of

the Science Committee

for Healthy Land and

Water, and a member

of the International

Planning Committee for

the Sustainable Water

Future Programme.

From 2008 to 2012 he

was a National Water

Commissioner. He has

served as Chair of the

Scientific Advisory

Panel for the Lake

Eyre Basin Ministerial

Forum and the MDBA’s

ACSEES, on which he

continues to play an

observer role.

Member/

Non-Executive

29 May

2018

28 May

2022

15

Ms Joanna

Hewitt AO

BE (Hons),

MS, Honorary

doctorate

from

University of

WA

Ms Hewitt chairs

the Scientific

Advisory Group of

the Department of

Agriculture, Water

and Environment. She

has worked at senior

levels in the Australian

Public Service

including Secretary

of the Department of

Agriculture, Fisheries

and Forestry from

2004 to 2007 and

Deputy Secretary in the

Department of Foreign

Affairs and Trade.

She was Commission

Chair of ACIAR from

2011 to 2014 and

has worked at the

OECD and consulted

internationally.

Member/

Non-Executive

29 May

2018

28 May

2022

15

Details of accountable authority during the reporting period 2020-21 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 151

152 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Details of accountable authority during the reporting period 2020-21

Name Qualifications

of the accountable authority

Experience of the accountable authority Position title/

Position held

Executive/ Non-Executive

Period as the accountable authority or member within the reporting period

Date of commence-ment

Date of cessation

Number of meetings of accountable authority attended

Ms Susan

Madden

BA (Hons) Ms Madden is Principal

Economist with

international consulting

firm GHD. She is Chair

of the Central West

Local Land Services

and sits of the Local

Land Services Board of

Chairs. Ms Madden has

a background in family

farming and extensive

experience working in

agricultural and natural

resource management

roles in the public and

private sectors. Her

leadership capabilities

and contributions

have been recognised

through a number of

awards. She is a Fellow

of the Peter Cullen

Trust.

Member/

Non-Executive

10 March

2016

(re-appointed

26

November

2020)

26

November

2024

9

Mr Rene

Woods

Young Rural

Leaders

Course 2001,

Canberra;

Indigenous

Governance

Program,

Australian

Institute of

Company

Directors

2012,

Melbourne;

Healthy

Country

Planning

Coaches

Course 2019

Mr Woods is a Nari Nari

man from Hay in south-west NSW. He has

extensive experience

in the management

of Aboriginal culture,

heritage and natural

resources. He is

a conservation

officer with Nature

Conservancy Australia

and has previously

been Chair of the

Murray Lower Darling

Indigenous Nations and

Vice-Chair of the Nari

Tribal Council.

Indigenous

Member/

Non-Executive

18

December

2020

18

December

2024

6

Name Qualifications

of the accountable authority

Experience of the accountable authority Position title/

Position held

Executive/ Non-Executive

Period as the accountable authority or member within the reporting period

Date of commence-ment

Date of cessation

Number of meetings of accountable authority attended

Mr Phillip

Glyde

BA (Hons), BE Mr Glyde came to

the MDBA from

the Department of

Agriculture, where he

was a deputy secretary.

He has been a member

of the Australian

Public Service since

1980, working in

natural resource

management, industry

and environmental

policies for a number

of departments. Mr

Glyde has also worked

overseas with the

OECD in Paris and

the Department of

Environment, Food

and Rural Affairs in the

United Kingdom.

Chief

Executive/

Executive

4 January

2016

3 January

2024

13

Details of accountable authority during the reporting period 2020-21 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 153

154 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Index

Index

Numbers 2019-20 river operations review, 51

2020-21 summary, 5-7, 10-12

2021-22 priorities, 73

A abbreviations, 145-146

Aboriginal people, see First Nations engagement.

advertising and market research, 95

Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences (ACSEES), 6, 67, 81-82

advisory committees, 81-82

agriculture industry in the Basin, 8

annual report requirements, 147-149

asset management

activities coordinated and overseen by MDBA, 50-51

performance, 47

significant incidents, 51

Audit Committee

members, 91-94

role, 77, 86-87, 89, 90, 91

auditing (MDBA internal), 90

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

MDBA office, 17

MDBA staff, 102-103

minister responsible for water, 79

water resource plans, 5, 28

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), 12, 15, 16

Australian Government

collaborating agencies, 16

minister responsible for water, 76, 79

role in Basin plan, 10, 12, 14, 16, 26

Australian National University (ANU), 71

B Barwon-Darling river system

inflows, 12, 49

and toolkit measures, 30, 31, 33

Basin Climate Resilience Summit, 64

Basin communities, 16, 37, 61, 67

Basin Community Committee (BCC), 6, 67, 76

members, 17, 80-81

role, 80

Basin Officials Committee (BOC), 37, 76, 79-80, 89

Basin Plan 2012, 10-12, 14, 40-41

Basin Plan evaluation (2020), see The Basin Plan 2020 Evaluation.

Basin Salinity Management 2030 (BSM2030), 46, 57, 58

performance, 52, 56

Basin states, 10, 12, 76, see also under each state.

collaborations and interdependencies, 16

MDBA offices and map, 17

ministers responsible for water, 79

roles and responsibilities, 15

Blyton, Annette, 84, 86, 104

Bunn, Stuart, 77, 78

details, 151

remuneration, 104

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), 16, 29, 42, 77

business continuity, 90

C Capability Board (MDBA), 86, 87

capability strategy, 88, 89

Capacity Policy Working Group, 64, 80

case studies

focus on reconciliation, 99

River Murray transparency improvements project, 65

salinity registers, 57

Chief Executive review, 5-7

climate change, 10, 68, 73

collaborations and interdependencies (MDBA), 15, 16-17, see also under Basin communities; Basin states; First Nations engagement; research projects.

Comcare claims (MDBA staff), 100, 101

Comcover, 90

Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH), 15, 77

Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO), 16, 33, 34

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), 16, 68

research projects with, 59, 70, 71

Compliance and Enforcement Policy 2018-2021, 38, 39

Compliance Independent Assurance Committee, 82

compliance with the Basin Plan, see Murray-Darling Basin Plan compliance (strategic goal 2).

Corporate Plan 2020-21, iv, 23, 79, 88

MDBA role and key activities, 26, 38, 46, 60, 66

COVID-19 impact, 73

accreditation, 28

asset activities, 50

business continuity, 90

engagement with stakeholders, 5, 7, 10, 63

and First Nations engagement, 72

toolkit measures implementation, 31

Cox, Andrew, 92

CREATE valves, 19

D dams, 11

dam safety, 47, 51

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), 15

research collaboration, 71

role, 14, 70, 77, 80

drought, 6, 9

E ecological sustainability (MDBA), 96-97

Employee Consultative Committee, 101

employees, see staff (MDBA).

energy efficiency (MDBA), 97

environmental health of the Basin, see icon sites (The Living Murray Initiative).

environmental performance (MDBA), 97-98

Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, 96

environmental water, 15, 26, 29, see also Northern Basin toolkit measures.

compliance activities, 41, 43, 48

First Nations participation, 10, 69

reporting and publishing, 53, 54, 56, 58-59

Environmental Water Committee (EWC), 34, 37

Executive Board (MDBA), 83, 85-86

F Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), 101

Finance Officer’s report, 108-112

financial compliance reporting, 91

financial statements, 107-139

assets, 111

auditor’s report, 113-114

budget variances, 138-139

controls, 112

expenditure, 110

financial position, 126-131

managing uncertainties, 134-136

people and relationships, 132-133

performance, 108, 122-125

revenue, 109

First Nations engagement, i, 8, 16

2021-22 priorities, 73

MDBA membership, 4

Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN), 28

Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN), 28

participation in environmental water, 69

participation in water management, 53

partnerships, 72

Reconciliation Action Plan, 99

Traditional Owners, i

Water (Indigenous Values and Uses) Direction 2018 (Cth), 66, 69, 95

First Nations Environmental Water Guidance (FNEWG) project, 69

fish, 8, 30, 31, 46, 53, 56

2021-22 trends, 56

floods, 9, 12

fraud control, 90

freedom of information, 95

G glossary, 142-144

Glyde, Phillip (Chief Executive), 77, 78

details, 153

remuneration, 104

role, 83, 84, 85, 87

goals, see strategic goals.

Goodes, Tim, 84, 85, 87, 94, 104

governance (MDBA), 76-87, see also management and accountability (MDBA).

Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences, 6, 67, 81-82

Authority members, 77-78, 150-153

Basin Community Committee (BCC), 76, 80-81

Basin Officials Committee (BOC), 76, 79, 80

Compliance Independent Assurance Committee, 82

core functions, 76

Executive Board, 83, 85-86

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, 1, 76

Ministerial Council, 76, 79, 80

organisational structure, 83-84

senior management boards, 86

structure of governance, 87

Goyder Institute, 71

Grant, Troy, 12, 37

H health and safety (MDBA staff), 100-101

Health and Safety Committee, 101

Hewitt, Joanna, 77, 78

details, 151

remuneration, 104

Hogan, Karen, 92

Houston, Sir Angus (Chair), 12, 77, 78

details, 150

foreword, 4

regional engagement tours, 63

remuneration, 104

Index | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 155

156 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Index

i icon sites (The Living Murray Initiative)

defined, 52

environmental health, 6, 53-56

The Living Murray Initiative, 9, 10, 52-53

report cards, 53-54

use in planning, 54-56

ICT disaster recovery planning, 90

Inaugural River Reflections conference, 64

Independent Assurance Committee (IAC), 44, 77, 82

Independent River Operations Review Group (IRORG), 6, 48, 51, 65

Indigenous people, see First Nations engagement.

industry collaborations, 16

Inspector-General of Water Compliance (IGWC), 42, 48

appointment of, 12

transfer from the Office of Compliance, 6, 38, 73, 82

Intergovernmental Agreement on Implementing Water Reform (IGA), 14, 30, 31

international engagement, 64

K key performance indicators (KPIs), 24-25, see also under each strategic goal.

L Lake Hume water quality, 58-59, 71

M Madden, Susan, 77, 78, 80, 81

details, 152

remuneration, 104

management and accountability (MDBA), 75-105, 91-94

advertising and market research, 95

Audit Committee, 86, 87, 89, 90, 91-94

capability strategy, 88, 89

ecological sustainability, 96-97

environmental performance, 97-98

freedom of information, 95

governance, 76-87, see also under governance (MDBA)

ministerial directions and government policy, 95

people and culture, 99-105, see also under staff (MDBA)

risk management, 89-94, see also under risk management (MDBA)

scrutiny, external, 94

maps

Basin Community Committee member locations, 81

MDBA offices and regional officers, 17

Murray-Darling Basin snapshot, 8

Murray-Darling Basin water storage capacity, 11

River Murray icon sites’ environmental health, 54

market research, 95

McLeod, Tony, 84, 94

media engagement, 60, 64

Menindee Lakes, 11, 12, 49

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, 1, 76

Ministerial Council, see Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council.

ministerial directions, 95

modelling (Source platform), 68

Modern Regulator Improvement Tool, 39, 45

Morison, Jenny, 91

Murray-Darling Basin, 9

maps, 8, 11

Murray-Darling Basin Agreement, 6, 10

Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), 13-19

Authority members, 77-78, 150-153

Corporate Plan 2020-21, iv, 23, 79, 88

governance, see governance (MDBA)

organisational structure and divisions, 83-84

purpose, 13, 23

regional presence and engagement, 16-17

roles and responsibilities, 4, 14-15, 26, 38, 46, 60, 66

staff, 17-19, see also staff (MDBA)

Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council, 37, 80, 89

members, 79

role, 50, 76, 79

Murray-Darling Basin Plan compliance (strategic goal 2), 6, 15, 24, 38-45

2020-21 key activities, 38

compliance activities, 40-42

key performance indicator measures and results, 24, 39

Modern Regulator Improvement Tool, 39, 45

outcomes desired, 38

publishing of activities, 39, 43-44

sustainable diversion limit accounting activities, 42

water resource plan compliance activities, 40

water take, metering and monitoring, 39, 40, 44

water trade, compliance activities, 39, 42, 43, 45

Murray-Darling Basin Plan implementation (strategic goal 1), 5, 24, 26-37

2020-21 key activities, 26

key performance indicator measures and results, 24, 27, 30

outcomes desired, 26

role (MDBA), 26

sustainable diversion limit (SDL) accounting, 29

toolkit measures implementation, 30-37

water resource plan (WRP) accreditation, 28-29

Murray-Darling Basin Plan transparency and confidence (strategic goal 4), 6, 25, 60-65

2020-21 key activities, 60

engagement activities, 63-64

key performance indicator measures and results, 25, 62

outcomes desired, 60

River Murray transparency improvement project (case study), 65

role (MDBA), 60

stakeholder awareness and understanding, 61-63

website and social media engagement, 63-64

Murray-Darling Basin science and knowledge (strategic goal 5), 6, 25, 66-72

2020-21 key activities, 66

climate change, adapting to, 68

data management framework, 72

First Nations engagement, 69, 72, see also under First Nations engagement

key performance indicator measures and results, 25, 67, 70

modelling (Source platform), 68

outcomes desired, 66

publishing of scientific data, 68-69

research collaborations, 16, 71

research projects, 70

role (MDBA), 66

Murray-Darling Water and Environment Research Program, 66, 68, 70

Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN), 16, 28, 63, 69

research collaboration, 70, 72

Murray River, see River Murray.

N National Water Initiative, 10

National Water Reform 2020, 12

New South Wales (NSW)

MDBA offices, 17

MDBA staff, 102-103

minister responsible for water, 79

toolkit measures implementation, 30-36

water asset management performance, 50

water resource plans, 28

Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN), 16, 28, 63, 69

research collaboration, 70, 72

Northern Basin Project Committee (NBPC), 37

Northern Basin toolkit measures, 24, 26, 27, see also environmental water.

defined, 30

implementation progress 2020-21, 30-31

milestones, timeframes and progress, 32-36

processes to show implementation progress, 37

O Office of Compliance, 6, 82, 83

One Basin Cooperative Research Centre, 71

organisational structure (MDBA), 83-84

Outcome 1, 23

P Parkinson, Michael, 93

Peak Groups Briefings, 64

people and culture, see staff (MDBA).

People Strategy 2021-2026, 18-19

performance, 21-72, see also under each strategic goal; financial statements.

2020-21 snapshot, 5-6, 24-25

2021-22 priorities, 73

portfolio, 14, 76, see also Australian Government.

Portfolio Budget Statements, 23

Program 1.1, 23

Program Board (MDBA), 72, 86, 87

Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) (PGPA Act), 22, 23, 91

Public Service Act 1999 (Cth), 100

Q Queensland

MDBA offices, 17

MDBA staff, 102-103

minister responsible for water, 79

toolkit measures implementation, 30-36

water resource plans, 5, 28

R Ramsar Convention, 9, 52

Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), 99

regional presence and engagement, 6, 12, 16, 18, see also under Murray-Darling Basin Plan transparency and confidence (strategic goal 4).

2021-22 priorities, 73

Employee Consultative Committee, 101

regional office locations, 6, 17

remuneration (MDBA)

Audit Committee, 91-94

executives, 103-105

staff, 101-103

reporting and publishing

Basin Plan reports, 68-69

on compliance activities, 43-44

on environmental water, 69

freedom of information disclosures, 95

requirements PGPA Act, 23

on toolkit measures implementation, 37

on water quality in River Murray, 58-59

research, see also Murray-Darling Basin science and knowledge (strategic goal 5).

collaborations, 16, 71

projects, 70

Reynolds, Andrew, 83, 84, 87, 93

Chief Executive review, 5-7, 22

remuneration, 104

Index | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 157

158 | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | Index

risk management (MDBA), 89-94

Audit Committee, 91-94

audits, internal, 90

business continuity, 90

Comcover, 90

framework, 89

fraud control, 90

reporting of compliance, 91

River Management Transparency Plan, 62, 65

River Murray, 48, 54

River Murray system, operation of (strategic goal 3), 6, 25, 46-59

2020-21 key activities, 46

2020-21 water operating context, 49

asset management, 47, 50-51

audit findings, 58

environmental health of the system, 52-56

Independent River Operations Review Group, 6, 48, 51, 65

key performance indicator measures and results, 25, 47, 52

outcomes desired, 46

River Murray transparency improvements project, 65

role (MDBA), 46, 48

salinity management, 46, 52, 56, 57, 58

significant incidents, 51

water quality reporting, 58-59

River Murray Water Quality Monitoring Program, 58-59

S salinity management, 46

performance, 52, 56-57

progress on audit findings, 58

salinity registers at Morgan (case study), 57

SA Water, 59, 71

science and knowledge on Murray-Darling Basin, see Murray-Darling Basin science and knowledge (strategic goal 5).

SDL Accounting Framework Improvement Strategy 2020- 2025, 29

SDL Reporting and Compliance Framework, 39

senior management committees (MDBA), 86-87

Sheehan, Stephen, 93

social media and website engagement, 63-64

Source (National Hydrological Modelling Platform), 68

South Australia

MDBA offices, 17

MDBA staff, 102-103

minister responsible for water, 79

salinity registers at Morgan (case study), 57

water asset management performance, 50

water resource plans, 5, 28

Southern Basin Panels project, 64

Southern Connected Basin Environmental Watering Committee (SCBEWC), 41, 54-56

staff (MDBA)

Employee Consultative Committee, 101

ethical standards, 100

numbers, 101, 102-103

People Strategy 2021-2026, 18-19

reconciliation focus, 99

regional presence, 6, 17

remuneration, 91-94, 102-103, 103-105

risk management induction, 89

work health and safety, 100-101

stakeholders, 16, see also Basin communities; Basin states; First Nations engagement; research collaborations.

awareness of the Basin plan and operations, 61-62

awareness of the MDBA role, 63

River Murray transparency improvements project, 65

strategic goals, 24-25

goal 1, 24, see also under Murray-Darling Basin Plan implementation

goal 2, 24, see also under Murray-Darling Basin Plan compliance

goal 3, 25, see also under River Murray system, operation of

goal 4, 25, see also under Murray-Darling Basin Plan transparency and confidence

goal 5, 25, see also under Murray-Darling Basin Plan science and knowledge

Strengthening Connections Committee, 86, 87, 99

student engagement, 64

sustainability, see ecological sustainability (MDBA).

sustainable diversion limit (SDL), 5, 15, 26

accounting framework, 29

compliance activities, 29, 39, 42

T The Basin Plan 2020 Evaluation, 5, 10, 12, 37, 67, 68-69

2021-22 priorities, 73

Recommendation 2, 29

Recommendation 6, 62

Recommendation 11, 68

The Living Murray Indigenous Partnerships Program, 53

The Living Murray Initiative, 9, 10, 52-53, see also icon sites.

toolkit measures, see Northern Basin toolkit measures.

tourism industry in the Basin, 8, 9

U University of Adelaide, 71

University of New South Wales, 70, 71

v Victoria

MDBA offices, 17

MDBA staff, 102-103

minister responsible for water, 79

water asset management performance, 50

water resource plans, 5, 28

W waste management (MDBA), 97

Water (Indigenous Values and Uses) Direction 2018 (Cth), 66, 69, 95

Water Act 2007 (Cth), 10, 14, 76

waterbirds, 8, 56

water for the environment, see environmental water.

water quality

impact from bushfires, 58

projects, 59

reporting, 58-59

threats map, 59

water recovery, 15

water resource plans (WRPs), 5, 15, 26

accreditation assessments, 28-29

amendment process, 29

compliance activities, 40

water resources

2020-21 resources at 23 June 2021, 10-12

inflows to River Murray system, 49

water-saving initiatives (MDBA), 98

water take, see also sustainable diversion limit (SDL).

compliance activities, 40-41

measure, 39

metering and monitoring, 44

reporting, 29

Water Take Report 2019-20, 29

water trade

compliance activities, 39, 42, 43, 45

markets, 12, 15, 42, 45

Watertrust Australia, 71

website and social media engagement, 63-64

wetlands, 8, 9, 15, 30, 71, see also The Living Murray Initiative.

Williams, Brent, 83, 87

Woodburn, Vicki, 84, 85, 87, 104

Woods, Rene, 4, 77, 78, 99

details, 152

remuneration, 104

Index | MDBA ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21 | 159

Connect with us.

The MDBA has offices in Adelaide, Albury-Wodonga, Canberra, Goondiwindi, Griffith, Mildura, Murray Bridge, Toowoomba, and regional engagement officers

around the Basin.

1800 230 067

engagement@mdba.gov.au

mdba.gov.au

Office locations

Adelaide 10 Corbett Court, SA 5950

Albury-Wodonga 1 McKoy Street, VIC 3690

Canberra 33 Allara Street, ACT 2601

Goondiwindi 72 Callandoon Street, QLD 4390

Griffith 152 Yambil Street, NSW 2680

Mildura Lot 4a 152 Deakin Avenue, VIC 3500

Murray Bridge Mobilong House, Level 3 5 Seventh Street, SA 5253

Toowoomba 123 Margaret Street, QLD 4350