Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Queensland Lower Balonne catchment water purchase tender announced

Media release
24 March 2011

Water Minister Tony Burke today announced a tender for water purchases in the Queensland Lower Balonne catchment 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 Queensland Lower Balonne catchment would open on March 28 as part of the Government's approach to having smaller and more regular 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.

"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 water market in Queensland is relatively new so these more regular tenders will give farmers greater information about pricing."

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.

Up to $40 million will be available for the Queensland Lower Balonne catchment tender.

Guidelines and the application forms for the tender round will be available once the tender opens by either calling 1800 218 478 or www.environment.gov.au/waterpurchasing.

Prices paid for water from previous tenders in the Lower Balonne is available from the Water for the Future website at www.environment.gov.au/water/.