More than 100 councils from across the Murray-Darling Basin were represented by three peak bodies at the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in Mildura last month.
The Murray-Darling Association, representing more than 100 councils across all four basin states, joined forces with regional peak bodies the Murray River Group of Councils, and Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils to press the case for local government to have an enduring seat at the ministerial council in an advisory capacity.
‘‘It is in the interest of all governments and our basin communities for local government, via the MDA and its member councils and groups to have the means and the opportunity to participate in the development of policy and decisions that impact our communities as decisions are being made,’’ MDA national president David Thurley said.
‘‘As the third level of government in Australia, and the one most directly connected to the people we serve, we are uniquely positioned to leverage local knowledge to develop solutions and deliver balanced outcomes.’’
Local government, ministers, industry and community representatives at the round table all agreed that ‘‘failing to land the plan’’ was simply not an option.
Association chief executive Emma Bradbury said it was essential that governments and the MDBA were properly equipped with the tools required to ensure integrity of data, and community confidence in the findings.
‘‘Recent reports released in Victoria including those by the GMID Water Leadership Group, and the Victorian Government’s Social and Economic impacts of the Basin Plan in Victoria report are hard hitting and evidence-based,’’ she said.
‘‘They provide essential data on the economic impacts particularly, and should be replicated in the other states.
‘‘That work must be further supported by a rigorous and repeatable basin plan impacts evaluation framework that can distinguish short term and one-off impacts from the underlying performance of the plan for use by all levels of government and the MDBA, to better understand the positive and negative social and economic impacts on our local communities right across the Murray-Darling Basin.’’