Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Murray-Darling Basin water purchase rounds announced
22 March 2011
Water Minister Tony Burke today announced a tender for water purchases in the southern-connected Murray system in Victoria and South Australia under the Gillard Government's new approach to recovering water for the environment through smaller, more consistent tenders.
Mr Burke said the tender for water purchases in the southern-connected system would open on March 28 as part of the Government's approach to having smaller rounds of 'rolling' tenders for buybacks in the Murray Darling Basin.
"I am determined to achieve a plan for the Murray Darling that delivers healthy rivers, strong communities and continued food production," Mr Burke said.
"We've seen what drought did to farmers and regional communities and I am determined to make sure that the next drought doesn't look like the last in the Murray Darling Basin.
"This can only be achieved by investing in infrastructure upgrades and improving the efficiency and productivity of our irrigation industry while we recover water for the rivers.
"These smaller, more consistent water buyback tenders are aimed at giving communities confidence in a steady, measured pace of water purchasing.
"This approach will provide irrigators with the opportunity to sell their water, with the added reassurance that more rounds will be available soon if their circumstances change or if their sell offer is not accepted.
"Water purchases made under the buybacks will count towards any reduction in diversions needed to meet the final sustainable diversion limits under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and complements our substantial investments in more efficient irrigation water delivery and use."
The tenders are part of the Australian Government's $3.1 billion Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling program, under its Water for the Future Initiative. The decision to run tenders in the nominated catchments is guided by the best available information as to where the largest unmet environmental needs exist across the Basin.
The Government last month outlined its initial response to issues raised in consultations and meetings with stakeholders in the Murray Darling Basin last year and subsequently by the Windsor inquiry into the proposed Murray Darling Basin Plan.
The first of the smaller tenders for the buyback started with a round on 28 February. While individual tenders will be smaller the total amount allocated for buybacks will not be reduced.
Up to $60 million will be available for the southern-connected Murray system (excluding NSW) tender.
Guidelines and the application forms for the tender round will be available by either calling 1800 218 478 or visiting www.environment.gov.au/waterpurchasing.