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Joint Media Release
Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
&
Australian Government Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss MP

10 December 2004

Government releases Living Murray's business plan


The Living Murray initiative is a step closer to full implementation following the release today of its business plan.

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, and the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the plan's release was a historic step in revitalising the river.

The business plan was approved at a meeting of the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council (MDBMC) on 26 November, together with a number of proposals that will significantly speed up implementation of the overall project.

The proposals include four packages of water recovery projects that will help secure the Living Murray's first 240 gigalitres for environmental flows.

Mr Truss said the business plan set out how water will be recovered under Living Murray, and how it will be made available to the six chosen significant ecological assets.

"The six 'assets' are significant areas of the Murray - such as forests and wetlands - that the MDBMC agreed to target as part of its 'First Step' decision last November to tackle the river system's declining health," he said.

Senator Campbell said the business plan, as well as the water recovery proposals agreed at the 26 November meeting, could be rolled-out as soon as the relevant States, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, and the ACT re-committed to the National Water Initiative.

"The business plan will provide the Australian public with the confidence that the Living Murray is being managed with the interests of all stakeholders in mind," he said. "It will require, for example, the setting up of Basin-level accounts to track the use of recovered water - water that will be held in secure entitlement by the States for the environment."

Mr Truss said the business plan also reaffirmed the importance of community consultation.

"Consultation groups will be set up for each of the six significant ecological assets," he said. "As a result, the people who will be most affected by the recovery proposals will be included in their development."

The Ministers said the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, and the MDBMC's Community Advisory Committee, would hold community forums at regional centres along the River Murray early next year to talk about the business plan and listen to community views. Copies of the Living Murray Business Plan are available on the MDBC web site - www.MDBC.gov.au/ - or by calling 1800 687 044.

Media contacts:
Minister Truss: Tim Langmead 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433
Minister Campbell: Wayne Grant 02 6277 7640 or 0407 845 280

Commonwealth of Australia