Submission to the Productivity Commission

Submission to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan: Implementation Review 2023

The Murray-Darling Basin (MDB or Basin) is enormously important to Australia. Its water covers about 14% of Australia’s total land area (ABS, 2010), and about 8.7% of all Australians, including 40 distinct Aboriginal groups, live in the Basin. The populations of Adelaide and Canberra are directly dependent on the Basin’s water supply. The Basin produces more than 40% of Australia’s agricultural commodities, and attracts tourism earnings of about $11 billion annually (MDBA, 2023). Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent: efficient water quality management and distribution is critical for current and future generations.

ATSE advocates an evidence-informed, long-term approach to Basin planning. The following recommendations are proposed with the goal of improving water governance, sustainability, recovery, quality management, and distribution activities:

Recommendation 1: Develop strong and effective guidelines for collaboration among the state bodies and the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) using a science-informed and technology-based approach.

Recommendation 2: Amend the Water Act 2007 to state the order of importance of its objectives.

Recommendation 3: Use water management technologies to standardise monitoring data across Basin states and institutions.

Recommendation 4: Prioritise the integrated development plan for Digital Twin systems for long-term sustainable water management.

Recommendation 5: Modernise the Integrated River System Modelling Framework (IRSMF) facilities to enable cloud computing access for external experts.

Recommendation 6: Assess the water recovery activities and adopt highly effective and proven pathways for buyback to implement the Sustainable Diversion Limits.