Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Government working closely with the States on the Basin Plan

Media release
28 August 2012

Minister for Water Tony Burke will continue to work closely with the Basin States over the coming weeks to finalise the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Basin States – South Australia, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Queensland – last night reached further consensus on the details of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, but there is still work to be done.

“This latest agreed document gets us closer still to a genuine consensus position to reform of the Murray-Darling Basin,” Mr Burke said.

“This reform is all about delivering a healthy working basin for generations to come.

“While the Act would allow me move to the next stage where I have unilateral legal powers to direct changes, I have decided to continue to seek the final elements of a genuine consensus position over the coming weeks.

“Consensus has failed for a century so I don't rule out using these legal powers in the future.

“But if for the sake of a few more weeks we can get an agreed outcome, then I believe it's worth the continued effort.

“This additional consultation with the states does not in any way compromise my determination to have a plan in place this year.”

Mr Burke said there is strong support for a mechanism which allows the volume of held water to vary within limits in circumstances where water can be used more efficiently, whether that be environmental water or irrigation water.

“This puts the focus squarely on outcomes rather than volume,” he said.

"While every jurisdiction is actively engaged in finding ways to maximise environmental outcomes while minimising any negative impact on the communities, I don't want to stop that conversation short."