Milestone moment for the Murray Darling Basin27 October 2015
The Government has delivered on a key element of the Murray Darling Basin Plan with the passing of the Water Amendment Bill into legislation.
The legislation introduces a threshold limit on Commonwealth water purchase agreements. It means surface water purchases in the Murray-Darling Basin will be limited to 1500 gigalitres (GL) in order to minimise water recovery through Government buybacks. The move was promoted by the Murray Darling Basin Plan, which was developed in 2012 to provide a coordinated approach to water use across the Basin's four states and the ACT.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt described the Murray Darling Basin as the food bowl of the nation, saying the passage of the bill was a significant milestone in the journey to reform, to protect the Murray-Darling Basin and to provide water security for regional communities.
“It is important to recognise that the 1500GL cap is a ceiling, not a target, and we will continue to prioritise water recovery through investment in, on and off-farm infrastructure.
“We are investing $2.5 million a day until June 2019 into irrigated agriculture and already more than 10,000 farmers have benefited from this record investment, which will improve productivity and support the long-term future of the regions,” he said in his announcement.
Mr Hunt said the Bill shows real progress is being made in supporting some of the best farmers in the world. And that 1164.6GL of water had now been purchased, leaving 335.4GL of ‘headroom’ before the 1500GL limit would be reached.
The Bill also amends the Basin Plan to broaden the types of efficiency projects to include participation by consumptive water users in off-farm efficiency projects.
As part of the Basin Plan water reforms, the Australian Government is making an unprecedented capital investment of almost $6 billion in the future of irrigated agriculture in the Basin.