The Murray Darling Association, MDA, is a membership based peak representative
organisation representing local government and communities across the Murray Darling
Basin. The Basin covers 14 percent of the land mass of Australia. There are 181 local
government organisations across the Basin who derive their wellbeing from the resources
of the Basin. Eighty-two of these organisations are currently members of the MDA.
In 2012, the Murray Darling Basin Plan came into effect, with a planned staged
implementation of major reforms over a 12 year period. The Murray Darling Basin
Authority, MDBA, has been tasked with the implementation of the Plan.
The MDA supports the purpose of and need for the Basin Plan, while noting that the Plan
will benefi t from the application of adaptive management principles and practices. In its
Strategic Plan 2016-19, the MDA commits to:
“work constructively with the MDBA, and other stakeholders using our collective
engagement and infl uence for the overall benefi t of the Murray Darling Basin and the
communities reliant upon its resources, via the implementation of the basin plan.”
However, the MDA hears from its members, individuals, local government and business
communities who are experiencing signifi cant impacts to their towns, their lives and their
livelihoods. These impacts are largely attributed to the Basin Plan, with acknowledgment
that some other factors may be contributory.
Members are frustrated with the lack of consistent, rigorous and repeatable monitoring
and evaluation of the social and economic impacts of the Plan, and consequent gaps in
any efforts to mitigate and address these impacts.
What is needed?
In order to address the concerns of its members and ensure that the Plan delivers
the best outcomes for the Basin communities, the MDA aims to develop a rigorous
and repeatable basin plan evaluation framework and methodology against which the
social and economic impacts of the plan can be measured and assessed. The MDA has
stipulated that such an assessment tool must be able to identify and distinguish short
term, unrelated, and one-off impacts from the underlying performance of the Plan.
Through this assessment tool, the MDA aims to:
• identify social and economic impacts to rural and regional communities as a
result of the Basin Plan
• distinguish short term and one off impacts from the underlying performance of
the Basin Plan
• identify and develop targeted solutions
• enable better region-wide decision making and the development of regional
• identify and clarify stakeholder responsibility
• strengthen the credibility and effi cacy of its advocacy through evidence based
decision making and