Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Two new Murray-Darling water purchase rounds for Victoria and South Australia

Media release
20 April 2011

Water Minister Tony Burke today announced two new tenders for water purchasing 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 tenders for water purchases in the southern-connected system would open in Victoria and South Australia on May 2 and June 6 as part of the Government's approach to having smaller rounds of 'rolling' tenders for buybacks in the Murray Darling Basin.

Each water purchase tender will be open for two weeks, following on from similar tenders conducted in February and March.

"I am determined to achieve a plan for the Murray Darling Basin that delivers healthy rivers, strong communities and continued food production," Mr Burke said.

"We've seen the devastating impact of drought on farmers and regional communities. I am determined to make sure that these effects are not repeated the next time drought hits the Murray Darling Basin.

"We can achieve this by investing in infrastructure upgrades and improving the efficiency and productivity of our irrigation industry while we also recover water for the rivers.

"These smaller, more regular water buyback tenders are aimed at giving communities confidence in a steady, measured pace of water purchasing.

"The rolling tender approach provides 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.

"There are no forced sales and the Government only purchases water from willing sellers who choose to put part of their entitlement on the market."

The tenders are part of the Australian Government's $3.1 billion Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin 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.

While individual tenders will be generally smaller than in previous years, the total amount allocated for buybacks will not be reduced.

Guidelines and the application forms for each tender round will be available from 2 May and 6 June by calling 1800 218 478 or visiting www.environment.gov.au/waterpurchasing