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Lake Eyre Basin 2009 Ministers' Report to the Community

2009

Message from the Ministers

We, the Ministers of the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum, are pleased to provide you with our first annual report to your community. We want to inform you of the important work that has been taking place in the Lake Eyre Basin, through the cooperative efforts of governments, interest groups and individuals.

We know that the Basin is a unique region and one of the last unregulated wild river systems in the world. It spans Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales, and covers one-sixth of the continent or nearly 1.2 million square kilometres. It sustains a range of nationally significant natural, cultural and economic assets, which are of importance to all Australians.

Despite its large size, the Basin is home to only 57,000 people who live in remote and often harsh conditions. Industries such as pastoralism, mining, petroleum and tourism also face challenges to their operations in the Basin, where long distances and limited infrastructure can be obstacles to sustainable economic growth in the region.

The rivers of the Basin are unique on a world scale, with highly variable and unpredictable water flows creating a 'boom and bust' ecology. Both high and low water flows have important ecological impacts, which are also critical to the Basin's pastoral and tourism industries.

Looking after this special place calls for cooperation across state borders, between governments and key stakeholders, including the Basin community, to ensure that economic, social and environmental needs are met. To this end, the Australian Government and the Queensland and South Australian Governments signed the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement (LEBIA) in October 2000. The Northern Territory signed the Agreement in 2004.

Our report provides a snapshot of recent activities undertaken across the Lake Eyre Basin by the many partners that work under the cooperative spirit of the LEBIA. These activities bring us closer towards achieving the aims of the LEBIA.

As signatories to the LEBIA, our Governments are committed to working with all sectors of the community to tackle the present and future water and natural resource challenges that the Basin faces and to work together to build on the great work progressed in recent years. We hope you find the report informative.