Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth

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1.5 National Legislation

Water Act 2007 (Commonwealth)

The Water Act 2007 (the Act) established the Murray–Darling Basin Authority with functions and powers to ensure the Basin water resources are managed in an integrated, consistent and sustainable manner. The Act requires the Murray–Darling Basin Authority to prepare and oversee a Basin Plan. The Basin Plan, finalised in November 2012, is a legally enforceable document that provides for the integrated and sustainable management of water resources in the Basin.

The Basin Plan’s Environmental Watering Plan provides a strategic framework for coordinated environmental water planning and environmental watering across the Murray–Darling Basin. In the future, TLM will align with the Environmental Watering Plan with respect to the development of Basin states’ long term environmental watering plans and annual priorities, through the annual environmental water prioritisation processes.

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth)

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places (including natural, historic or Indigenous Australian places) — defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance. There are eight matters of national environmental significance to which the EPBC Act applies.

The EPBC Act aims to balance the protection of these crucial environmental and cultural values with our society’s economic and social needs by creating a legal framework and decision-making process based on the guiding principles of ecologically sustainable development.

1.6 State Legislation

Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988

This Act provides a legislative basis for recognising and protecting Aboriginal heritage, specifically in relation to culturally significant sites, objects or remains on all land and waters. The Act must be considered prior to onground works occuring in the icon site or management decisions that may impact on the Ngarrindjeri cultural landscape that is the icon site.

Environment Protection Act 1993

This Act is the primary legislation for the control and prevention of pollution in South Australia. This Act must be considered prior to dredging and earthworks being carried out in the icon site.

Fisheries Management Act 2007

Some freshwater fish not listed under the federal EPBC Act 1999 are protected under the state Fisheries Management Act 2007. These include freshwater catfish (Tandanus tandanus), Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii), southern pygmy perch (Nannoperca australis), river blackfish (Gadopsis marmoratus) and southern purple spotted gudgeon (Mogurnda adspersa), all of which are found in the Lower River Murray and associated tributaries.

National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972

An Act to provide for the establishment and management of reserves for public benefit and enjoyment; to provide for the conservation of wildlife in a natural environment. The majority of the Coorong is part of the Coorong National Park.

Native Title (South Australia) Act 1994

This Act sets out processes for determining native title rights where Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander people have maintained a continuous connection to their traditional lands or waters. The Act must be considered prior to onground works occuring in the icon site.

Native Vegetation Act 1991

The object of this Act is to protect and enhance native vegetation, in particular remnant native vegetation. The Act must be considered prior to onground works occuring in the icon site.

Natural Resources Management Act 2004

The Act aims to assist in the achievement of ecologically sustainable development in South Australia by establishing an integrated scheme to promote the use and management of natural resources.

River Murray Act 2003

The Act aims to ensure that the River Murray is protected from activities that could impact on the health of the River. The River Murray Act recognises that the Coorong and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert Ramsar Site, as part of the Murray–Darling Basin, is an area of great environmental and economic significance to South Australia.

1.7 Legislative requirements – respecting Indigenous interests and values

Native Title and Aboriginal heritage requirements under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (‘the NTA”), the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Cth) need to be addressed in all programs being considered upon Ngarrindjeri lands and waters. The Ngarrindjeri’s governance structure enables the addressing of legislative requirements, policy directions at State and Australian levels and international obligations.

Indigenous interests regarding water are a key objective of the Water Act 2007 and an important consideration when Basin plans are developed (Section 21). The significance of Indigenous or ‘cultural’ flows for the Ngarrindjeri makes Indigenous considerations a priority when making restrictions on extractions. The 2004 Intergovernmental Agreement on a National Water Initiative refers to the inclusion of Indigenous ‘social spiritual and customary objectives’ and the recognition of Native Title Rights in planning of water issues.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) promotes the use of Indigenous people’s knowledge when taking a cooperative approach to maintenance and Indigenous issues as a key objective. Consultation with the Indigenous owners of the land is a requirement of section 7 of the River Murray Act 2003 and further includes the participation in the process of management. In addition, the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 has the serious consideration of Indigenous issues as a key objective.

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