The Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee (the Committee) convened in Canberra on 9 and 10 December 2014. The Committee continues to provide advice to governments with responsibilities for the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) on its efficient, effective and sustainable whole-of-Basin management and to coordinate activity between stakeholders to that end. The Committee does not have a resource management or lobbying role. Operational matters for Basin management are primarily the responsibility of the state/territory agencies.
The Committee is composed of members who represent the Australian government, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Northern Territory governments, communities, industries and other sectors with interests in the Basin. Please refer to the Committee's website for a full list of the current members and a copy of the Committee's Operating Arrangements. www.gabcc.gov.au
This is the first Communique that the Committee has prepared and is seen as a vital step in encouraging communications at a broader level with all GAB stakeholders and communities. We encourage you to seek further information on any of the items raised by either contacting the Secretariat or members of the Committee.
Strategic Management Plan
The current GAB Strategic Management Plan (SMP) has been in place for 15 years and concludes in September 2015. We are now in the process of developing a new SMP. This is a significant task and requires a number of processes to review the effectiveness of the old SMP; update our thinking on the latest science and knowledge of the GAB; review changes in the strategic environment (including in terms of water reform, government reform, industry development and advances in GAB science); identify potential future issues and drivers of change for whole-of-Basin management; and engage and consult with all GAB stakeholders in the development of the new SMP. The SMP is a strategic document and will outline the overarching principles and objectives by which the whole-of-Basin management of the GAB will be encouraged across the jurisdictions.
As a result, the Committee over the next 12 months will give the SMP development our highest work priority and we will almost exclusively focus on supporting the SMP development. The Committee is not responsible for drafting the SMP; however, we are providing an advisory role on its development.
Below is a diagram for the various stages of the SMP development
Review of current SMP and develop an Issues Paper for new SMP - GABCC input provided
Draft 1 of SMP - GABCC input provided
Draft 2 of SMP - Public Consultation - all comments collected and addressed &/or incorporated
Final new GAB SMP - submitted for Ministerial consideration and endorsement
At each stage the GABCC Committee members will seek advice from their respective organisations/sectors/communities to provide input into the SMP development as it progresses. The Committee will then ensure that all feedback is provided to the governmental Senior Officials Group. Once a draft SMP has been created, further stakeholder consultation will be conducted by the Australian Government in collaboration with the jurisdictions and GABCC.
We encourage you to understand what the SMP is for, what it means to you and your use of GAB water and how you can become involved in its development. A central email (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been created to receive comments and enquiries for the SMP review. Further information on the review and the public consultation process will be made available on the Committee's website at www.gabcc.org.au and the Department of the Environment's website at www.environment.gov.au/water/environment/great-artesian-basin
The public consultation period on the final draft SMP is expected to occur around mid 2015.
The Australian Government has approved up to $15.9 million over 3 years in matching funding for the extension of the GABSI program. The Department of the Environment is currently working with the Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia & Northern Territory governments to finalise the funding agreements and requirements for the program. These arrangements are being finalised as a matter of priority.
This is an excellent outcome for the GAB and the Committee worked tirelessly to champion the GABSI program continuing. It is absolutely essential that the capping and piping program is continued as the GABCC believes it is also essential that during the SMP process all stakeholders need to consider how the short, medium and long term maintenance requirements for bores within the GAB are managed and funded in the future, as it is unlikely that ongoing governments funds can be guaranteed.
The next Committee meeting will be held in Sydney in March, 2015.