Former Defence Force chief appointed new MDBA chair

By Rodney Woods

Former Defence Force chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston is the new chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Sir Houston has served the nation in several leadership roles, and his well-honed strategic skills will help focus efforts towards a healthy, working basin managed in the national interest.

“This is a critical time for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and I have no doubt that the authority will benefit from Sir Angus’ strong leadership and strategic capability,” Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt said.

“I can think of no one better qualified to lead the authority and to build strong and collaborative relationships with stakeholders than Sir Angus (Houston).

“Having a permanent chair of the authority for the next four years provides the leadership for the MDBA to engage and work with basin jurisdictions, communities, irrigators and First Nations people to ensure the basin plan is implemented in a way that is fair for all.”

A joint statement from MDBA acting chair Professor Stuart Bunn, Ms Joanna Hewitt, Ms Susan Madden and chief executive Phillip Glyde said the appointment was a significant announcement for the organisation.

“We look forward to working with Sir Angus (Houston) in the coming years and continue to work towards a healthy river system for all Australians.”

NSW Senator Perin Davey said Sir Angus Houston was the right person to lead the MDBA during the final stages of basin plan implementation.

“We are at the stage in the process where all states need to work together and getting consensus is crucial,” Senator Davey said.

“The role of chair of the MDBA will be vital to achieving outcomes.

“He has been appointed to senior leadership roles by former Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard as well as taking on several private board positions.

“He is well rounded and will hopefully bring a fresh approach to the MDBA.

“Many basin communities feel that the MDBA is too bureaucratic and disconnected.

“Hopefully Sir Houston will be able to improve the community connection and show a cultural shift.”