Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Water Minister provides suggestions on revised Basin Plan

Media release
1 November 2012

Water Minister, Tony Burke, today provided his feedback to the Murray Darling Basin Authority on the revised Basin Plan.

Mr Burke confirmed the Government’s support for a Plan with a benchmark of 2750 GL of water to be recovered for the environment and notified the Authority of the Commonwealth’s commitment to use the mechanism within the Plan to provide for an additional 450 GL.

“The Gillard Labor Government is committed to reform for the Murray Darling Basin that restores our rivers to health, ensures strong regional communities and sustainable food production,” Mr Burke said.

“The mechanism within the Plan will build on the legislation passed in the House of Representatives this week which allows environmental, social or economic outcomes to be improved in circumstances where the others are not harmed.

“There are no surprises in the feedback I have provided to the Authority.

“I have accepted the general architecture of the Plan that has come from the Authority and given a clear indication about how the Commonwealth will deliver the Plan.

“Where genuine consensus positions have emerged between the states my suggestions reflect this.

“On technical issues where consensus has not been possible I have exercised my own judgement in brokering compromises which I believe all jurisdictions can work with.

“These suggestions give the independent Authority the opportunity to return a finalised Plan to me which will ensure the future of the Basin.

“The suggestions take full account of the recommendations from jurisdictions, parliamentary committees and community meetings to acquire water in ways that minimise any detrimental impact to communities.

“I have also included in my suggestions a significant number of environmental thresholds which reflect the standards we must reach to return the Basin to health.

“There have been some issues where we haven’t been able to get everyone on the exact same page but these are suggestions that I believe everyone can work with and delivers a healthy Murray Darling Basin.

“I hope this results in the Authority being able to give me back a document that I can read, agree to and sign.”

Mr Burke said about 1,577GL of water per year had been recovered at the end of September, well over half way towards the 2750GL proposed by the MDBA.