The Hon. Neil Andrew, AO former member for Wakefield in the federal Parliament and current Chair of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) was kind enough to speak to GFAB Masters students in the Water Security and Governance course this week.
Neil became Chair of the MDBA in 2015, and many upstream water users were initially worried about having a South Australian in the role. But it is safe to say that Neil has done a wonderful and balanced job of leading the other Authority members through many challenging issues to date, including the northern Basin review and recent claims of non-compliance illegal water extraction in New South Wales.
Given the chance to hear Neil’s insights, many GFAR staff members interested in water governance also attended the session on Thursday. The discussion opened with humorous examples of the strong combative perceptions and attitudes that can pervade water governance, and moved on to illustrate and stress the importance of joint government approaches to water management in the Basin.
Importantly for the students, the presentation provided wonderful perspective on the challenges of successful water governance from Neil’s experience with the Authority to date.
Neil then provided the students with time to question him further on particular issues that interest them, which they took to with gusto. The session provided them with an excellent opportunity to explore certain issues such as the Living Murray Initiative and the Basin Plan further, to enhance their learning.
In all, it was a very useful presentation and follow-up discussion that the students appreciated greatly.
For my part, I was also very grateful to Neil for giving us so much of his valuable time, and for sharing his experiences candidly with the class. In our view (Sarah, Alec and myself), it is important for the students to hear from people actually governing water resources from the practical side, rather than concentrating solely on the theory and research. That was why we have provided a range of practical water governors in this inaugural course. We hope to continue that with even more guest presentations in the future.
Thank you Neil for being an important, entertaining and informative presenter in 2017!
This blog post was prepared by Dr Adam Loch.