Former Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston has been appointed as chairman of the Murray Darling Basin Authority.
The Authority is a Commonwealth agency that administers the Murray Darling Basin Plan – an agreement between state and federal governments to recover water from consumptive use, particularly irrigation farming, and return it to the river system to boost its environmental health.
Air Chief Marshal Houston served 41 years in the Australian Defence Force including six years as Chief of the Defence Force and four years as Chief of Air Force, before retiring in 2011. Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt said Air Chief Marshal Houston’s experience would be “exceptionally useful” in developing a sense of shared purpose between the often warring factions in the Murray Darling Basin.
Rural communities and irrigators frequently butt heads with environment groups and First Nations peoples over water rights, and states compete with each other and the Commonwealth for shares of the valuable resource.