About the Panel

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child paddling on NSW dam

We were appointed to independently study the social and economic conditions affecting communities in the Murray-Darling Basin.

The Panel looked at the underlying causes of the social and economic conditions across the Basin as communities deal with issues such as drought, demographic change, commodity price changes and the biggest water reform in Australia’s history.

This assessment was a critical opportunity to help shape the future of our Basin communities.

We took a whole-of-community approach, and looked at both agriculture and non-agriculture sectors of each community.

We listened to Basin communities’ concerns and heard first-hand about the local conditions.

Importantly, we are independent and remain objective.

We also looked to encourage communities to share their thoughts on opportunities for their local community, which helped shape their future.

The Panel acknowledges that First Nations people are the traditional custodians of the land and pays respect to Elders past, present and future. We also recognise the unique, diverse and enduring cultures of First Nations peoples.

We were appointed to independently study the social and economic conditions affecting communities in the Murray-Darling Basin.

The Panel looked at the underlying causes of the social and economic conditions across the Basin as communities deal with issues such as drought, demographic change, commodity price changes and the biggest water reform in Australia’s history.

This assessment was a critical opportunity to help shape the future of our Basin communities.

We took a whole-of-community approach, and looked at both agriculture and non-agriculture sectors of each community.

We listened to Basin communities’ concerns and heard first-hand about the local conditions.

Importantly, we are independent and remain objective.

We also looked to encourage communities to share their thoughts on opportunities for their local community, which helped shape their future.

The Panel acknowledges that First Nations people are the traditional custodians of the land and pays respect to Elders past, present and future. We also recognise the unique, diverse and enduring cultures of First Nations peoples.

  • Robbie Sefton - Chairperson

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    19 Jun 2019

    Robbie is from northern New South Wales and a primary producer of wool, meat and grains. She has a strong background in agricultural issues and community engagement. She is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program, a previous NSW Rural Woman of the Year recipient and serves on national boards and advisory groups for governments and businesses.

  • Dr Deborah Peterson

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    19 Jun 2019

    Deborah is an eminent agricultural and natural resource economist with a background in water management who has past roles with the Productivity Commission, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Victorian Department of Primary Industries and Energy and with the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

  • Rene Woods

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    19 Jun 2019

    Rene is a Nari Nari man from southwest New South Wales with a long involvement in securing rights to water for Aboriginal people, including as Chair of Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations and Operations Manager at Nari Nari Tribal Council. He is the Nature Conservancy project manager in Gayini Nimmie–Caira in southern NSW.

  • Andrew Kassebaum

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    19 Jun 2019

    Andrew is a horticulturist based in the Riverland and Barossa Valley, specialising in the production of irrigated wine grapes. He is an elected member of the Berri Barmera council, a board member of Regional Development Australia Murraylands Riverland and the Berri Hotel Group, and a committee member of the River Murray Advisory Committee and the Murray-Darling Association Region 5.

  • David McKenzie

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    19 Jun 2019

    David is Managing Director of the Opteon Property Group, Chair of the Victorian Governments Regional Development Advisory Committee, and the Goulburn Regional Partnership. He is a Board member of Goulburn Murray Water, previous Director of North East Water (Chair) and Goulburn Valley Water, and is also the co-convener of the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District (GMID) Water Leadership Forum.

  • Bruce Simpson

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    19 Jun 2019

    Bruce has spent more than 40 years in irrigated agriculture with experience in planning, management, practice, water policy, corporate governance and community. He owns and operates a farm advisory business, along with a family farming business north of Deniliquin. He has a long record of involvement with committees and boards in the Murray and Murrumbidgee regions. He is a graduate and Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

  • Michelle Ramsay

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    24 Jun 2019

    Michelle has worked in economic analysis and catchment planning, in the NSW irrigation industry, as a board member with the former Border Rivers Gwydir Catchment Management Authority and recently as a member of the Northern Basin Advisory Committee. Much of Michelle’s work has been in the fields of water reform and natural resource management, with a focus on economic and environmental sustainability and participatory community engagement processes.