Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Simon Crean MP

Minister for Regional Australia,
Regional Development and Local Government
Minister for the Arts

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Statement on Standing Committee on Regional Australia inquiry into the Murray Darling Basin Plan

Joint media release
2 June 2011

The Minister for Regional Australia, Simon Crean, the Minister for Water, Tony Burke and the Minister for Agriculture, Joe Ludwig, today welcomed the report by the Standing Committee on Regional Australia into the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

In October last year, the Government established a new Standing Committee on Regional Australia and asked that its first task be to inquire into the impact of the proposed Murray Darling Basin Plan, and report back to the Parliament.

The committee was chaired by Independent MP Tony Windsor and included members from both sides of the House. It undertook an eight month inquiry into the impact of the Plan.

We welcome this report as part of a process of building community and Parliamentary support for reforms to deliver a healthy river system, economic capacity and sustainable communities in the Murray Darling Basin.

The Gillard Government will now consider the report tabled today. It will help inform the development of the Government's overall water reform agenda for the Murray Darling Basin.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority has committed to considering the findings and recommendations of the Standing Committee's inquiry before releasing its Draft Basin Plan.

The Gillard Government wants Murray Darling Basin reform to deliver three outcomes: healthy working rivers, strong communities and sustainable food production.

We would like to thank the many communities who have contributed to this inquiry.

We appreciated their input during our own visits to communities and discussions with stakeholders across the Murray Darling Basin.

This report is important for the more than 2 million people who live in the Basin including farm communities that are committed to be efficient and sustainable contributors to Australia's economy.

Mr Windsor provided the Government with interim findings of the Standing Committee in February this year.

The Government has taken a number of actions in response to the Committee's interim findings including:

  • Changes to tax arrangements for irrigators who take-up water efficiency investment grants to eliminate the timing discrepancy between when payments are taxed and when deductions are available for grants. This measure in turn unlocks infrastructure investment which will enable strategic water recovery.
  • A new approach to water buybacks by moving to a smaller and more consistent rolling round of tenders for buybacks;
  • Following discussion at an Irrigation Industry Round Table about a potential new approach to sub-system retirement, consultation has taken place with representatives of the major irrigation water representatives; and
  • Committing $10 million towards investigating environmental works and measures projects which deliver more water-efficient environmental outcomes for the Basin.

The Government remains committed to delivering a final plan for the Murray Darling Basin to the Parliament in early 2012.