It has been thirteen years since the historic National Water Initiative was signed, and five years since the Australian Parliament agreed to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Since then, nearly $8 billion of taxpayers’ money has been spent largely to address the chronic over-allocation of water in the river systems of the Murray-Darling Basin. This report is the first independent and comprehensive review of the Basin Plan. Its purpose is to evaluate progress towards the social, environmental and economic objectives of the reforms, with the view to setting out steps necessary to deliver the Basin Plan in full by 2026.

This report also looks further into the future and sets out a suite of long-term reforms that are necessary if the nation is to achieve its ultimate goal of restoring the health of river systems in the Murray-Darling Basin. Overall, the review finds there has been significant progress since 2004, but this progress has slowed to a trickle since the Basin Plan was adopted in 2012. Without major changes in implementation, it is almost certain that the Basin Plan will fail.

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