7 – Connecting the champions of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers 83 the river system. Similar scientific resolutions, underpinned by consistent community concern and conviction, followed in later conferences (see Chapter 17). In 1998, an incoming Queensland Labor Government abandoned the draft Cooper Creek water plan which would have established large-scale irrigation (see Chapter 17). The plan eventually gazetted became the first in Australia to prohibit large-scale water resource development. The accompanying dialogue among community members, scientists and government resulted in innovative and visionary governance arrangements, supported by representation and communication processes and scientific input, which focused on protecting the flows of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers. This collaborative and integrative approach to planning and governance defused conflict and built trust among community, government and scientific stakeholders. Known as the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement, it marked a revolutionary shift in power and influence away from mainstream government decision-making to one of collaborative, Basin-wide decision-making that transcended jurisdictional borders, involved communities and was supported by scientific evidence. This governance model has since been applied by other organisations to areas such as the Murray–Darling Basin in Australia, a well-resourced and developed river system. With Queensland legislation enabling a review of water plans every 10 years, community concern was once again mounting about the vulnerability of the rivers to water resource developments. Wild Rivers declarations for the Lake Eyre Basin rivers, including protection of floodplains, were announced in 2011 (see Chapters 20 and 21 Table 7.1). Ultimately, this did not adequately protect river flows, with the incoming Liberal National Party Government Fig. 7.3. Currareva Waterhole on Cooper Creek, the location of a large-scale irrigation development proposal in 1995, requiring changes to the Queensland water resource plan (photo, A. Emmott).
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