Depending on the perspective of each person or organisation, the passage of the Basin Plan has met with mixed reactions. For Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Chair, Craig Knowles, it was seen as a time to celebrate. However, the jury is still out for the irrigation industry and the Basin's communities who remain concerned about the potential social and economic impacts that implementation may bring.
For the National Farmers' Federation (NFF), a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure that the Basin's irrigation communities will have a vibrant and sustainable future - as promised by politicians of all persuasions, successive governments and Ministers, and the MDBA. The drafting of the Basin Plan was at times a painful and divisive process. Implementation will take years but first, work is required to rebuild the trust and respect of the Basin's community. This is a critical starting point to form the basis of the long implementation phase. Aspects of implementation that are front of mind are the resolution of the Intergovernmental Agreement, how all governments will work constructively together, what the constraints management strategy will deliver and how the sustainable diversion limit (SDL) adjustment mechanism will offset the volume of water required for the environment. There is a great deal of difficult work to be done between now and 2019 and success will be dependent on coordination, collaboration, localism, and fairness - and implementation simply cannot be done without the states. With goodwill and cooperation, the NFF believes it can be done.