The Lake Eyre basin is also one of the largest, least-developed arid zone basins. It supports about 60,000 people and has no major irrigation, diversions or floodplain developments which is unique and a key feature. Low density grazing is the major land use, occupying 82% of the total land within the basin. Ecologically, the basin remains in quite good health, however invasive plant and animal species, combined with the emerging impacts of climate change, pose an ongoing threat.
Significantly, many areas within the Lake Eyre Basin are characterised by high or relatively high socio-economic disadvantage1. This reflects a combination of remoteness, the arid nature of most of the LEB, and an economic base lacking in diversity. Many of the inhabitants of disadvantaged areas are Aboriginal people.
Given the interjurisdictional nature, it does make management complex and in 2001 the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement Act 2001 was created and provided for the development or adoption, and implementation of agreed Policies and Strategies concerning water and related natural resources in the Lake Eyre Basin Agreement Area to avoid or eliminate, so far as reasonably practicable, adverse cross-border impacts. The Act provides for the establishment of a Ministerial Forum and advisory bodies to assist in delivering on its purpose.
An independent review of the IGA was undertaken in 2018 and resulted in several recommendations, with one key recommendation being the development of a strategic plan for the Lake Eyre Basin.
Alluvium was engaged to review the current operating arrangements for the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and develop a Lake Eyre Basin Strategic Plan in the context of the current direction of government and reform initiatives being adopted towards a more streamlined federal structure.
This project involves the development of a strategic plan to consider the recommendations of the IGA review in conjunction with consideration to the activities of and need for all the existing advisory groups to the former Ministerial Forum (the Senior Officers Group, the Scientific Advisory Panel and the Community Advisory Committee). The work outlined options for future governance structures for the three advisory bodies, including discussion on each option which will identify strengths and weaknesses in the LEB context, and presenting justification for the preferred option. The Commonwealth Water Minister and his basin counterparts were consulted on the options with a final decision residing with them.