Who is on the Panel

    The Panel will be led by Robbie Sefton, and five other industry leaders:

    • Andrew Kassebaum
    • Bruce Simpson
    • David McKenzie
    • Dr Deborah Peterson
    • Michelle Ramsay
    • Rene Woods

    What issues will the Panel look at?

    We will look at issues such as water availability, water buybacks, infrastructure upgrades, the changing nature of farming, sustainability of communities and small business.

    These are all areas of concern to people living across the Murray-Darling Basin. 

    How can I be involved?

    We encourage everyone to contribute to this assessment – we see it as a critical opportunity to help shape the future of our Basin communities. 

    Register to this site, so we can keep you informed and let you about the different ways you can get involved, either online or at face-to-face events.

    What's the purpose of the Panel?

    The Panel comprises independent experts from across the states and with a range of backgrounds, who can help Basin governments understand the stresses on our Basin Communities. 

    We will help identify actions for Basin governments to help build stronger local economies and a viable, long-term future for rural Australia.

    The Panel will look 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. 

    We will get to the heart of the issues and help the government understand the pressures on people across the Basin, including Indigenous communities.

    When will the Panel report back?

    We have been asked to undertake our assessment and provide a preliminary report back to Government by the end of 2019.

    Is this Panel really independent?

    Panel members are independent experts from across the states and from a range of backgrounds – all of whom can help Basin governments understand the stresses on Basin communities. 

    Panel members do not represent any individual community or industry.

    We are independent of Federal and State Governments.

    Why is this assessment important?

    We are all impacted directly or indirectly by the Basin and what happens to it. 

    It’s our shared resource, so it’s our shared responsibility to achieve a sustainably healthy river system for our current and future generations. 

    Australia needs a sustainable and healthy river system—our economy, food security, communities and wellbeing depend on it, now and into the future.

    Why is this work important?

    The Panel will demonstrate clear leadership through this assessment, and will focus on solutions. 

    We want to enable communities – so that communities can shape their own future. 

    We must identify and deliver insights and recommendations that will support communities to ensure their long-term viability

    It’s really important work, particularly as farmers and communities cope with the impact of drought and the biggest water reform in Australia’s history.

    Is the MDBA involved?

    Where required, we will draw on the knowledge and expertise of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), however we do not sit within or report to the MDBA. 

    Are the right people on the Panel to represent communities?

    The Panel’s independence is of critical importance. 

    The Chair (Robbie Sefton) has been selected based on her strong background in regional, rural and agricultural issues. 

    Aren't communities suffering because of the Basin Plan?

    The Panel is not reviewing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. 

    It is conducting a social and economic assessment of the Basin and its communities. 

    It will look 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 will be provided to Minister Littleproud, who will in turn share it with State Ministers so that they can use the insights to determine next steps.

    How important is the Murray-Darling Basin?

    The Murray-Darling Basin covers 1 million square kilometres of south-eastern Australia, across South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
    The Murray-Darling Basin is the largest and most complex river system in Australia.
    The Basin is:
    • Australia’s largest area for agricultural production and is our main food bowl. 
    • Home to more than 2 million people who rely on it for their vital source of water.
    • Important to our economy as it supports tens of thousands of businesses, brings in billions of dollars in tourism and is a key driver of employment.
    • Critical to over 120 waterbird species and 46 native fish species.
    • Home to over 40 of Australia’s Aboriginal nations.
    • Globally significant as it includes 16 internationally recognised and protected wetlands.

    What is the Murray-Darling Basin Plan?

    Over the years, the combination of natural droughts and increasing human use of the waterways for industry, agriculture and urban use has led to a decline in the health of the Basin.

    In 2012 with the bipartisan agreement of the federal parties and the Basin’s four states and the ACT, the Murray‒Darling Basin Plan was developed to manage the Basin as a whole connected system.

    The aim is to bring the Basin back to a healthier and sustainable level, while maintaining productivity for the benefit of the Australian community.

    At its heart, the Basin Plan sets the amount of water that can be taken from the Basin each year for sustainable urban, industrial and agricultural use. 

    The volume taken is based on achieving a balance between what’s needed for the natural environment and what’s needed for domestic, urban, industrial and agricultural use.

    What's the role of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority?

    The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), was established as an independent, expertise-based government agency to implement the Basin Plan.

    The MDBA also operates the dams and weirs along the River Murray, monitors water quality and quantity, and conducts research.