Senator Wong said the Water Recovery and Environmental Use Stakeholder Reference Panel and the National Irrigation Efficiency Stakeholder Reference Panel would allow feedback on rural water issues arising from the roll-out of the Government's Water for the Future initiative.
Both panels will liaise with the Government through the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.
The Government's $12.9 billion Water for the Future plan includes $5.8 billion to help make irrigation infrastructure more efficient and to help Basin communities adjust to a future with less water.
The plan also includes $3.1 billion to buy back water to return to the Basin's stressed rivers and wetlands.
'The Water Recovery and Environmental Use Stakeholder Reference Panel will provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to share their views on the Government's water purchase program and on our use of purchased water for improving the health of Basin rivers and wetlands,' Senator Wong said.
The Water Recovery and Environmental Use Stakeholder Reference Panel members have been chosen to bring together a range of perspectives and community interests. The panel comprises stakeholders from different fields from a wide range of geographical locations in the Basin.
Members of the Water Recovery and Environmental Use Stakeholder Reference Panel are:
Richard Anderson (Victorian Farmers Federation)
Arlene Buchan (Australian Conservation Foundation)
Ben Haslett (Renmark irrigation farmer)
David May (Wakool Landholders Association)
Ray Najar (Murray Darling Association)
Steven Ross (Murray Darling Basin Association, Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations)
Michael Schultz (Fivebough and Tuckerbill Wetlands Trust)
Rory Treweeke (Western Catchment Management Authority).
The panel builds on and replaces the Stakeholder Consultative Committee established in May 2008 to provide stakeholder input to the 2007-08 review of the Australian Government's water purchasing program.
Meanwhile, the National Irrigation Efficiency Stakeholder Reference Panel has been appointed to provide a consultation forum on irrigation efficiency investments under the Rudd Government's $5.8 billion Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure program.
'This panel will allow greater consultation between the Government and the rural irrigation industry on ways to improve the efficiency of national irrigation water delivery and use,' Senator Wong said.
The eight panel members were selected for their expertise in irrigation water efficiency issues. The panel members come from a broad range of irrigation methods and organisations, including rural irrigation practitioners, technical and research bodies, and private and government-owned irrigation water providers. The panel members are:
Mr David Carter (Victoria)
Dr Mathew Durack (Queensland)
Mr Les Gordon (NSW)
Mr Mike Logan (NSW)
Mr Jim McKeown (Victoria)
Mr Gavin McMahon (South Australia)
Ms Cheryl Rix (NSW)
Mr Chris Thompson (Tasmania)
'I wish to thank members of both panels for accepting these important appointments,' Senator Wong said.
'Their valuable input will help the Government in its critical work of restoring the health of the Murray-Darling Basin and ensuring a viable, long-term future for agriculture and the rural and regional communities it supports.'