Dealing with differing and sometimes conflicting criteria for priority-setting is an essential part of sustainable natural resource management. However, all too often, these ethical and political considerations are neglected within a planning regime based upon apparently 'objective' biophysical assessment techniques. Input into associated decision-making processes is also frequently restricted to a narrow range of 'stakes' based upon historical and geographic circumstances. This paper reports on the findings of interviews and discussion groups in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, which aimed to canvass the diversity of perceptions of distributive and procedural justice in river rehabilitation. A range of biophysical and social criteria for setting priorities in rehabilitation work was identified. Participants also had differing ideas on the composition of decision-making bodies and on decision-making processes. The key implications of these findings are that sustainable river management policy needs to openly address differing conceptions of justice and that rehabilitation practice should be holistic, transdisciplinary and concerned with both outcome and process.