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  • Water law and policy in the Murray-Darling Basin has dominated Australia’s news headlines over the past 18 months.
  • It has been a tumultuous period with a number of inquiries into water management ordered and undertaken at both levels of government; court cases were commenced in the New South Wales Land and Environment Court (including civil enforcement proceedings being run by EDO NSW); and legislative amendments were passed – with more to come in 2019.

Water law and policy in the Murray-Darling Basin (‘MDB’) has dominated headlines over the last 16 months or so. The genesis of this renewed interest in our scarce water resources was the much-discussed Four Corners episode ‘Pumped’, which aired on 24 July 2017. As is now widely known, the episode included allegations of non-compliance by certain water users on the Barwon-Darling River and maladministration of water laws by relevant agencies. It also discussed the government’s ongoing failure to address the lawful pumping of environmental water purchased by the Commonwealth with public money (noting that this water was purchased to restore the health of the MDB consistently with specific statutory obligations set out in the Water Act 2007 (Cth) and Basin Plan).

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