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Joint Media Release
Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Deputy Prime Minister
Leader of The Nationals
Minister for Transport and Regional Services
John Anderson MP
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss MP
Chairman Visy Industries
Richard Pratt AC
9 December 2004
The Australian Government today welcomed the report of an ambitious 18-month water efficiency study undertaken by Pratt Water in the Murrumbidgee Valley of New South Wales.
The Australian and New South Wales governments jointly committed $5.3 million from the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality for the study, entitled The Business of Saving Water , in a partnership with Visy Industries chairman Richard Pratt AC.
The Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, Mr Pratt, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, and the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the study set out a business case for saving water and would now be examined in the context of the Australian Government's wide-ranging water reform agenda.
" The Business of Saving Water is the first study of this magnitude in Australia and identifies potential benefits for the Murrumbidgee Valley as a result of new water saving infrastructure, technology and improved irrigation practices," Mr Anderson said.
Mr Pratt said: "The study shows there is more than enough water available to satisfy the needs of our environment as well as the demands of our growing agricultural economy, provided we take the right water-efficient approach."
The report identifies 1,334,000 megalitres per year of unaccounted or lost water flows. It sets out:
"The Government will now examine the recommendations in the report, and will be looking at opportunities for linkages with our existing policies and programs, including the National Water Initiative, the $2 billion Australian Water Fund, Living Murray and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality," Mr Anderson said.
"The report confirms the importance of the National Water Initiative, because it will provide the investment certainty and security that is absolutely critical for increased private sector investment in water," he said
Mr Pratt said the report took a business approach to the water saving challenge.
"Water is subject to the same basic drivers that affect any business - demand, supply and cost - and so business should be encouraged to take water seriously."
Mr Truss said the recent drought highlighted the importance of efficiently managing Australia's scarce water resources.
"While we cannot make it rain, we can actively look for opportunities for improved water use efficiency and water savings, which is one of the main reasons we supported this study into The Business of Saving Water ," he said.
Senator Campbell said that the investment options and recommendations contained in the report had been assessed for their potential economic, environmental and social impacts.
"The report highlights a simple truth: the water challenge facing Australia is too big to rely on government investment alone. We need to harness increased private sector investment and innovation," he said.
For information on the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality visit: www.lendahand.gov.au
Deputy Prime Minister: Bill McKinley 02 6277 7680
Mr Pratt: Tony Gray 0418 530 378
Minister Truss: Tim Langmead 02 6277 7520 / 0418 221 433
Minister Campbell: Wayne Grant 02 6277 7640 / 0407 845 280