Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Gillard Government invests to boost water efficiency

Media release
10 May 2011

The Gillard Government will be investing $845 million in the 2011-12 Budget to deliver water infrastructure projects and manage water sustainably in communities across Australia.

These projects will support sustainable water use, create water savings for the environment and improve farming efficiency.

Water Minister Tony Burke said the Government would continue to support local communities by ensuring the $5.8 billion set aside to increase water efficiency in rural communities goes towards projects that drive sustainable water use and management.

Support for infrastructure forms part of more than $12 billion the Gillard Government is investing under the 10-year Water for the Future initiative to deliver infrastructure funding, voluntary water purchases for the environment and improved water management arrangements.

Mr Burke said the Government would continue to support irrigation communities in the Murray Darling Basin by funding projects that would help communities to adjust ahead of a new Murray Darling Basin Plan.

"I am determined to achieve a plan for the Murray Darling Basin that delivers healthy rivers, strong communities and sustainable 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.

"That's why the Gillard Government is committed to 'bridging the gap' between current water diversions and the final sustainable diversion limits in the Basin Plan, through water savings generated by infrastructure investments and water purchases."

The Government has outlined a new approach to water recovery in the Murray Darling Basin that will further assist communities to plan for the future with confidence.

The changes include eliminating the timing discrepancy between when payments are taxed and when deductions are available for grant applicants under the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program and smaller, more consistent 'rolling' rounds of tenders for buybacks in the Murray Darling Basin.

They were an 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.