Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment
Water Recovery Strategy to provide greater certainty to business
2 June 2014
The Australian Government has today detailed how it will deliver on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on time and in full, with priority given to water saving infrastructure investments in a new Water Recovery Strategy released today.
"Our government promised to cap the volume of buybacks at 1500 gigalitres and instead recover water for the environment via infrastructure investment. This strategy delivers on our commitments, providing greater certainty to businesses and communities throughout the Murray-Darling Basin," said Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment.
"Unlike the previous Labor Government, who simply went on a reckless spending spree, we will pursue focused, strategic and targeted initiatives, focussing first on the opportunities for infrastructure investment and efficiency projects to deliver water for the environment.
"We are committed to implementing the Basin Plan on time and in full, to ensure the health of the environment and to restoring our rivers to health, while supporting a viable irrigation industry and sustainable food production for strong regional communities across the Murray-Darling Basin.
"Over the next four years, we will prioritise water recovery through infrastructure investment over buybacks, with over $2.3 billion forecast to be spent on rural water use and infrastructure projects.
"Apart from benefits directly flowing to local contractors and suppliers, these projects are providing greater certainty to businesses and will help secure long term viability and growth in the Basin."
Under the strategy, water buybacks will progress at a significantly slower pace and the focus of the relatively small amount of water purchasing will be on high priority, strategically important purchases, including groundwater purchases in south eastern Queensland.
"One of the Australian Government's key priorities is to ensure that the Murray-Darling Basin remains Australia's primary food bowl," Senator Birmingham said.
"We want to see our nation producing as much food and fibre as we can sustainably achieve for the Australian people and for export to the world.
"The plan demonstrates that, with full delivery of intended water savings via infrastructure projects and environmental works, the level of final buyback would be around 1300 gigalitres, well within our promised 1500 gigalitre cap.
"Together we have a lot of work to do to implement the Basin Plan in a way that delivers the best outcomes for both our rivers and the communities that rely upon them, while withstanding the tests of future droughts," Senator Simon Birmingham said.
A copy of the Strategy is available at www.environment.gov.au/resource/water-recovery-strategy-murray-darling-basin.