The Federal and Labor governments have agreed to deliver the entire Murray-Darling Basin Plan, including the Northern Basin Review.
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, said, “The government has reiterated its commitment to the 450 gigalitres, with zero negative social and economic impacts, and the process of attaining it can now begin.
“There will be annual meetings and technical workshops on the SDL, projects and constraints removal, giving transparency on the delivery of the projects.”
The package includes $20 million to help economic adaptation in communities impacted by the Basin Plan.
“This agreement finally provides certainty to the two million people who live in the Basin. People who are fatigued from the stress of not knowing how much water – the economic driver for most of these communities – will be in their district next year. Not knowing if farmers will make money and employ people next year; not knowing if their own families, farms and businesses will be hurt,” Mr Burke said.
The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) welcomed the range of government commitments, which it said has “reaffirmed bipartisan support for the Basin Plan and secured the passage of two sets of important amendments to the Basin Plan in the senate”.
“The Basin Plan’s success has always depended on strong cooperation and consensus across governments and across political divides—and the Authority is pleased that Minister Littleproud has achieved a renewed commitment to this spirit of cooperation together with Mr [Tony] Burke.
“The MDBA said the commitments align closely with the priorities of the Authority—stronger compliance and better protections for environmental water; positive outcomes for Indigenous communities and Basin communities more broadly; and effective implementation of the projects tied to the Basin Plan SDL amendment.
“These commitments will strengthen and build upon the Authority’s ongoing work to achieve these important goals.
“The importance of protections for environmental water in the northern Basin was a key consideration in our decision-making following the Northern Basin Review. This is why we made the northern Basin Amendments contingent on a ‘Toolkit’ of measures, including measures to better protect water for the environment.
“We are pleased that governments have strongly reaffirmed their commitment to fully and transparently implement these measures, and that this work will have the additional assurance of a Northern Basin Commissioner to oversee progress.
“We also welcome government agreement on a clear path forward for the recovery, as required under the Plan, of an additional 450GL of water for the environment through efficiency measures with positive or neutral socio-economic outcomes.
“The Basin Plan is our best pathway for securing the future of our most iconic river system and the communities and industries that depend upon it.”