Murray-Darling Basin Authority chairman Craig Knowles has advised he will finish in the role when his four-year term expires in January 2015.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Senator Simon Birmingham, said that Mr Knowles had played an extremely valuable role in working towards a balanced and consultative approach in the development of the Basin Plan.

“Craig was appointed to take on a difficult task at a time of great disparity about what the Basin Plan should look like and considerable uncertainty about the ability to even achieve an agreed Basin Plan,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Over his four years as Chair, Craig has placed a great emphasis on involving local communities and stakeholders in, firstly, the development of the Basin Plan and, subsequently, its implementation.

“Craig's approach to working with stakeholders, communities and Basin Governments ensured a plan that included a range of opportunities and options for governments to consider, build on, adapt and finally reach consensus.

“I am grateful to Craig for his advice, leadership and hard work, as all Australians should be grateful for his role in achieving historic reforms to secure sustainable management of our greatest river system.

“I thank Craig for his outstanding work and personal commitment as Chair, for his leadership of the MDBA and for his commitment to the wellbeing of the Basin and Basin communities,” said Senator Birmingham.

Mr Knowles said he had enjoyed his time in the role and felt he had achieved what he had set out to do.

“I came into this role with the challenge of taking the MDBA through a process and delivering a Basin Plan to the Australian Parliament in what has been, for more than 100 years, an extremely challenging and important area of public policy,” Mr Knowles said.

“Seeing the Australian Parliament give such strong bipartisan support to the Basin Plan in 2012 was an important historical moment and a moment that is now being recognised internationally.

“I've had the privilege of working with some of the most talented and dedicated professionals and I thank the MDBA staff, the members of the Authority and all those I have worked with for their support, their professionalism and, at times, their forbearance under difficult and testing times.

“I also express my great appreciation to the many thousands of Australians who attended meetings, wrote submissions, came up with solutions, took leadership roles and helped to educate us all along the way. The fact that we are now well into the second year of implementation is a testament to both the quality of the Basin Plan and to the men and women who crafted it.”

Mr Knowles, who sits on a number of boards in government and the private sector, said his remaining few months at the MDBA would be focused on working with MDBA staff to finalise some key pieces of work under the Basin Plan and meeting with basin community and industry contacts.

Senator Birmingham said an appointment of a new Chair would be made in due course, consistent with the requirements of the Water Act.