Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Gillard Government meet with Murray Darling Basin irrigators

Media release
8 March 2011

Water Minister Tony Burke has hosted the third in a series of roundtables with irrigation sector representatives from the Murray Darling Basin states.

Mr Burke met yesterday with representatives from irrigation communities including the National Farmers Federation, the National Irrigators' Council and key irrigation sector representatives.

Mr Burke said the meeting was an important part of the Gillard Government's consultation with communities on reform in the Murray Darling Basin.

"The Gillard Government wants to get the best outcome for the Murray Darling Basin so that communities have certainty for the future," Mr Burke said.

"Our Government wants Murray Darling Basin reform to deliver three key outcomes: a healthy river system, sustainable food production and to drive strong regional communities.

We understand how important it is that basin communities get an opportunity to contribute to basin reforms and this meeting continued productive discussions our Government has been having with the irrigation community.

"At the first two meetings, participants asked the Government to look at options for the regulation of water brokers and also a shift towards more strategic purchasing in its water buyback program.

"The Government has recently made changes to the way it approaches water buyback by moving to a smaller more consistent rolling rounds and we sought feedback at the meeting on the way that strategic buybacks might occur.

"A number of participants were concerned about the so-called swiss cheese effect and were keen to see buybacks occurring in a more strategic manner.

"At previous meetings of the roundtable, participates had also highlighted the importance of an efficient water market in ensuring that water goes to highest value use.

"The meeting discussed the roundtables' priorities for regulating water market brokers so that farmers can trade water with increased confidence.

"The Government will take into account feedback provided and I thank everyone who made the trip to Canberra from their communities for this roundtable."

The Water Minister was joined by Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean and Minister for Agriculture Joe Ludwig.