The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Local engagement officers for environmental watering
6 February 2013
The Gillard Government will recruit specialised local staff to work with the community to help restore the Murray-Darling Basin to health.
Water Minister Tony Burke said the six Commonwealth Environmental Water local engagement officers will be based in regional communities across the Basin and work with local people to determine how best to use the environmental water outlined in the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
This builds on the Government's commitment to 'localism' which is hard wired into many parts of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, including the environmental watering plan.
"The way we use environmental water is at the heart of basin reform, it's how we restore the system to health,'' Mr Burke said.
"The issue of increasing local knowledge in management of environmental water has been raised in almost all community meetings I've been to as well as by the Windsor committee.
"These local engagement officers will play an important role in helping us to continue to tap into the knowledge and experience of local people within the catchments.
"We are committed to providing opportunities for local communities to bring forward suggestions for use of environmental water and as such we will be encouraging them to give their local engagement officers feedback or advice.
"Local information and experience will be critical to efforts to develop smart and efficient approaches for using and managing environmental water, as part of Basin reform."
The local engagement officers will play a key role in assisting the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office to engage with local communities about how to best use environmental water to help restore the Murray-Darling Basin to health.
They will work with the existing state bodies and community networks, such as catchment management authorities and advisory groups established to provide community views on environmental watering.
The officers will be employees of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office but the Australian Government will be inviting Catchment Management Authorities and other relevant organisations to assist in the hosting of the local engagement officers.
Commonwealth environmental water is managed by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to protect and restore rivers, wetlands and other environmental assets in the Murray-Darling Basin.
More than 1300 gigalitres of water will be available in 2013 to benefit the many rivers in the Basin.
Every drop of Commonwealth environmental water is delivered in consultation with state governments, local community groups including catchment management authorities and landholders.