The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission was established by the South Australian Government on 23 January 2018, pursuant to the Terms of Reference set out at the outset of this report.
Whilst the Terms of Reference are addressed in detail throughout the body of the report, abbreviated responses to each of them are set out, with cross references to the relevant chapters that address those matters in more detail.
The Key Findings outlined are the Commissioner’s findings on matters of central importance to the Terms of Reference, but do not reflect the entirety of the findings in relation to matters inquired into, and are necessarily abbreviated. They are not intended as a substitute to consideration of those findings in full, as set out in each chapter of this report.
The Recommendations are made to the South Australian Government. For the Recommendations to be followed, or adopted, the South Australian Government will have to convince the relevant Commonwealth Minister, or the other Basin State Governments, or in some instances the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), to take certain action. They include recommendations for amendments to be made to the Basin Plan 2012 (Cth) (Basin Plan) so that it is lawful, and to the Water Act 2007 (Cth) (Water Act).
There are various means by which the Basin Plan can be reviewed. Subsection 50(2) of the Water Act is an example. Either the Commonwealth Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources can request the MDBA to conduct a review, or the Basin States can. The Water Act also provides for the MDBA to recommend an amendment to the Basin Plan, and for the Minister to adopt that amendment: secs 45–48 of the Water Act.
The Recommendations in this report should be read, then, as recommendations to the South Australian Government to seek agreement from, as relevant, the Commonwealth Minister, the Basin States, or the MDBA, to conduct reviews of or make amendment to the Basin Plan.
Abbreviations and commonly used expressions are found in Appendix 1.