Murraylands and Riverland Local Government Association propose new River Murray authority

A new authority, designed to clarify standards of compliance on the River Murray, could be created if approved and backed by the state government.

At a forum in Murray Bridge last Friday, September 29, Murraylands and Riverland Local Government Association’s (MRLGA) chief executive officer Peter Bond presented a proposal to create a One River Murray Authority to represent the nine councils invested in the river in South Australia.

The councils would include the Rural City of Murray Bridge, the Mid Murray Council, the Coorong District Council, the District Council of Karoonda East Murray, the Southern Mallee District Council, the three Riverland councils and the Alexandrina Council.

Mr Bond said the Authority would primarily represent local government interest in holistically co-ordinating key planning, decision making, licensing and compliance issues to ensure sustainable management of the River Murray.

He said the current governance of compliance in the South Australian section of the river was a “bit of a dog’s breakfast”.

“We’ve got that many agencies with a finger in the pie in terms of regulation over the river and compliance in South Australia that we think it could be streamlined,” he said.

“We get a lot of stray houseboats coming in from VIC and NSW that get into SA when they shouldn’t be… we’d like that compliance tidied up.”

Mr Bond said the Authority would look at making the rules stricter, in line with Victorian compliance.

“We’re using the Goulburn River group as an example of how they operate there,” he said.

“There’s a range of aspects we’re looking at… the 1956 flood level needs to be reviewed for one, because we think it could quite restrictive and that can be freed up a bit to be more enterprising.”

The MRLGA will meet with the Murray River Alliance for South Australia this Friday, October 6 to discuss the proposed Authority and its purpose if established.