Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 86 rivers. This culminated in the signing of the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement in 2000, focusing state, territory and federal governments on protecting its free-flowing rivers (Table 7.1). The Northern Territory subsequently signed the agreement in 2004 (Fig. 7.5). This framework provided the institutional governance for an already united community, and overarching arrangements to protect the Basin through partnerships with the community, industry, scientific and government people. The focus was on ‘water and related natural resources’, in particular the protection of natural variability in river flows, and, although not explicit, this also included flow volumes. Ministers focused their agencies on implementing the agreement, establishing a Community Advisory Committee and Scientific Advisory Panel in 2001 to advise the Ministerial Forum (comprising a minister from each of the signatory governments Fig. 7.2b). These advisory bodies engage with community-driven catchment groups and regional natural resource management organisations, and are supported by a secretariat based within the Australian Government (Fig. 7.2b). The Community Advisory Committee spans the entire Basin, and represents all interests. Cultural understanding and connection of Aboriginal people to the rivers was recognised as fundamentally important, eventually manifesting in increased representation by Traditional Owners on the Community Advisory Committee. This is underpinned by six fundamental operating principles, endorsed by Ministers in June 2004: sustained involvement of Aboriginal people face-to-face contact coordination observation of local protocols promotion of mutual learning and provision of regular feedback through an Fig. 7.5. Government ministers and members of the Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Group at the signing of the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement in 2004, when the Northern Territory signed (photo, V. Norris).
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