State water ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to delivering the Murray Darling Basin Plan, promising further consultation with affected First Nations groups.
Water Ministers from across the Murray-Darling Basin met on Wednesday 12 October in Canberra to discuss the implementation of the Basin Plan.
The Ministerial Council also represented an important step forward for Traditional Owner water interests in the Murray Darling Basin. With all jurisdictions agreeing to support partnerships with First Nations peoples grounded in the principles of self-determination to support their cultural, environmental, social and economic aspirations through access to water.
New South Wales Water Minister, Kevin Anderson, said the meeting provided an important opportunity to recognise the hard work that has been done so far in implementing the Plan and the positive environmental outcomes already being seen across the Basin.
When it comes to managing water my view is healthy rivers, healthy farms and healthy communities,” Mr Anderson said.
“Our communities and agricultural sector need to know they are protected from these impacts and this is something I have strongly represented to Ministers.”
While Ministers acknowledged the positive outcomes already being achieved under the Plan, they recognised the need to be realistic about the challenges in implementing the shared commitments within the remaining time frame.
“We have heard the message loud and clear from communities that they need certainty from the government about how these key challenges will be addressed,” Mr Anderson said.
“During today’s meeting I called on Basin Ministers to agree that greater flexibility is needed to deliver the outcomes intended under the Plan.
“I am pleased that Ministers supported my recommendation that a clear plan will need to be developed with specific actions that will provide flexibility for delivering projects and dealing with shortfall towards Basin Plan targets. This plan will be presented at a Ministerial Council for agreement early next year.”
Victoria’s Minister for Water, Harriet Shing, attended the Ministerial Council meeting to reaffirm Victoria’s pledge to deliver the Murray Darling Basin Plan in full.
“It has been a long time between Murray Darling Ministerial Council meetings and it is great to finally have a Commonwealth Government that is willing to meet and discuss the next steps towards delivering the Basin Plan,” Ms Shing said.
“Victorian Basin communities have done the heavy lifting to ensure we have met all our Basin Plan obligations to date and we’re working with urgency to deliver our remaining projects by 2024.
“Basin Governments have worked together for ten years to deliver this plan without socio-economic harm and it’s important we continue to give Victorian communities the security they need to continue delivering the Basin Plan.”