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Commissioner Joanne Chong discusses the 2023 Murray–Darling Basin Plan implementation review on Flow

After the release of the 2023 Murray–Darling Basin Plan implementation review last week, which found that 'the Australian Government’s recently proposed extension of the Basin Plan timeframes is necessary but won’t be enough', Commissioner Joanne Chong appeared on the Country Viewpoint to further dissect the findings of the report.

Photo credit: Murray-Darling Basin Authority official Facebook page

Chong highlighted the fact that numerous Basin communities were consulted by the team of authors collaborating on the review and that the overwhelming sentiment expressed was one of frustration.

"Myself and the team, we travelled around the basin and visited 17 different locations and what we heard, almost universally, was this real frustration with governments about implementing the plan," Chong said.

"People were frustrated that things haven't been progressed; frustrated with how engagement had been done; and also really frustrated with not knowing what's going on in terms of implementation.

"For the Productivity Commission in formulating the interim report recommendations, a key focus is on accountability.

"More transparency and accountability is needed, we recommended that

the Commonwealth Minister for Water should report annually on progress of projects, on what's feasible, what's not and how much is being spent as well."

Chong also expressed that, despite the frequent negativity often surrounding the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the Commission heard from many individuals, communities and industries that the plan itself was of critical importance.

"It's so important to them to have the Basin healthy and working. I mean something that we did hear through the Basin was that the plan is important and that was really resounding," Chong said.

"Just to highlight one brighter marker, we actually heard from some people and communities how they appreciated how the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder went about working in partnership with community and with irrigation infrastructure operators to get water out onto the environment...on local actions to get things done."

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