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The Authority

The Water Act 2007 establishes the Murray­–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), the Statutory Agency which supports the Authority Board. 'The Authority' is comprised of the Chair, Chief Executive, Indigenous member and 4 part-time members appointed by the Governor-General in accordance with sections 177 and 178 of the Water Act 2007.

Authority members are appointed based on their specialised skills and experience in areas relevant to water resource management, governance, environmental, community and indigenous matters.

The Authority takes advice on Basin-wide strategy, and policy and planning, from the MDBA and collaborates with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and Basin jurisdictions. It also receives advice from Basin communities, industry, environmental groups and other government organisations (including the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) to secure Basin water resources.

Under the Water Act 2007 the Authority is legislated to undertake a number of functions:

  • prepare and review the Basin Plan
  • measure, monitor and record the quality and quantity of the Basin's water resources and condition of water-dependent ecosystems
  • conduct research to improve knowledge on Basin water resources and water-dependent ecosystems
  • to develop, or assist the development of, measures for the equitable and sustainable use of Basin water resources
  • to make recommendation to the Commonwealth, the Basin states and corresponding agencies, on any matters the Authority considers may impact the quality or quantity of the Basin water resource
  • collect, utilise, and share information about Basin water resources and water dependent ecosystems
  • engage and educate the Australian community about Basin water resources.

In response to the Compliance Compact outcomes, the Australian Government committed to review the Authority appointments process to ensure that a broad range of experience is considered as part of the selection process to appoint Authority members. In November 2019 the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council agreed to a new process whereby DAWE, in consultation with the Basin Officials, advertise, shortlist and manage a more streamlined appointment process on behalf of the Basin governments.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d) – Chair

Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d) was awarded the Knight of the Order of Australia in January 2015 for extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit in service to Australia, through distinguished service in the Australian Defence Force, continued commitment to serve the nation in leadership roles, particularly the national responses to the MH370 and MH17 disasters, and in a variety of roles in the community.

Sir Angus retired from the military in July 2011 after serving for 41 years. He was Chief of the Australian Defence Force from 2005–2011 and prior to that was Chief of Air Force for 4 years.

Sir Angus is Chancellor for the University of the Sunshine Coast, Chair of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and Chairs several other boards. He also serves as a board member for numerous organisations as well as being a visiting fellow of the Australian National University National Security College. In addition, he is the Ambassador/Patron for a number of charitable organisations, including several mental health charities. Sir Angus has been awarded 4 honorary doctorate degrees from the University of South Australia, the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales and Griffith University.

Sir Angus has extensive experience in bringing different interests together to work towards a common goal, and is well placed to lead the Authority for the next stage of implementation ahead.

Professor Stuart Bunn

Professor Stuart Bunn is the Director of the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. Stuart’s major research interests are in the ecology of river and wetland systems with a particular focus on the science to underpin river management. This research has resulted in more than 250 technical publications, most of which are refereed journal papers and conference proceedings. Stuart has extensive experience working with international and Australian government agencies on water resource management issues.

From 2008–2012, Stuart was a National Water Commissioner and he has previously served as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel for the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum and as a Director of Land and Water Australia. He is currently Chair of the Science Committee for Healthy Land and Water and a member of the International Planning Committee for the Sustainable Water Future Programme.

Stuart was appointed Chair of the (MDBA) Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences in 2016. He currently plays an observer role.

Ms Joanna Hewitt AO

Joanna Hewitt has worked at senior levels of the Australian Public Service in the areas of agriculture, foreign and trade policy. She has also served on corporate, public sector and non-governmental boards. Joanna is the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Group of the Department of Agriculture.

Joanna’s senior government appointments include Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (2004–2007) and Deputy Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Joanna was Commission Chair of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) from 2011–2014. She has worked at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Agriculture Directorate and consulted internationally.

Joanna has a Bachelor of Economics (Hons 1) from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Science (Economics) from the London School of Economics. She is an Officer of the Order of Australia, and has been awarded a Centenary Medal and an honorary doctorate in economics from the University of Western Australia.

Ms Susan Madden

Ms Susan Madden brings skills, experience and networks gained from a background in family farming, a First Class Honours degree in Agricultural Economics, and 15 years working in agricultural and natural resource management based roles. Her leadership capabilities and contribution to agricultural and natural resource management over this time have been recognised through a number of industry awards and achievements.

Ms Madden is a principal economist with the international consulting firm GHD in the Natural Resources and Agriculture team. In 2021 Ms Madden was appointed as Assistant Commissioner of the New South Wales Natural Resources Commission. She has also worked in both public and private sector roles, including experience with the NSW Catchment Management Authorities, agricultural consulting firm Hassall and Associates, and accounting firm KPMG.

Most recently Ms Madden was the Executive Officer of regional farming group Macquarie River Food and Fibre, a role she held for close to 7 years. Over this time she participated in major government planning reform processes including the review of NSW Water Sharing Plans and development of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, as well as water pricing determinations undertaken by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Ms Madden lives in Dubbo in Central West NSW. She is Chair of the Central West Local Land Services (commencing in March 2017) and sits on the Local Land Services Board of Chairs. She is a Fellow of the Peter Cullen Trust and a finalist in the 2013 Australian Cotton Industry Young Achiever of the Year Award.

Mr Rene Woods

Rene Woods is a Nari Nari man from southwest New South Wales. He has had a long involvement in Gayini (water) for Aboriginal people across the Basin.

Rene is a strong advocate for First Nation people in the Basin and has worked in communities in both the public and non government organisation sectors of the Basin. He is currently employed by the Nature Conservancy Australia as a Conservation Officer and has seen what can happen for communities that have Gayini and land under their ownership and control. He believes that together we can achieve a strong healthy river system and healthier communities.

He previously held the position of chairperson of the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations. He has also been vice-chair of the Nari Nari Tribal Council. He has also held several other positions including with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries Aboriginal Water Initiative and Murrumbidgee Valley Water NSW Customer Advisory Group. Rene was also a member of the National Cultural Flows Research Committee and Independent Panel for the Assessment of Social and Economic Conditions of Murray–Darling Basin communities. 

Mr Phillip Glyde – Chief Executive

Phillip Glyde joined the Murray–Darling Basin Authority as Chief Executive on 4 January 2016.

Previously, Phillip was a Deputy Secretary at the Department of Agriculture, where he held a number of positions with responsibility for agriculture, fisheries and forestry policy, several corporate and governance functions, as well as international trade and market access, export certification services and their research division – Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

A member of the Australian Public Service since 1980, Phillip has worked on natural resource management, industry and environmental policies in a number of Australian government departments including Prime Minister and Cabinet, Environment and Resources and Energy.

Phillip has also spent some time working overseas including with the Environment Directorate of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris and the Cabinet Office and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the United Kingdom.



Updated: 11 Aug 2021