Media Release: The Coalition Government's Implementation Agenda for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

The Australian Government is firmly committed to delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on time and in full and will continue to work with state and territory counterparts in the Basin to achieve that.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, said the Government’s six point Implementation Agenda that she jointly announced with the Prime Minister last week would help ensure the Basin Plan remains on track and delivers for all Basin communities.

“Our six point Implementation Agenda sets out, in very clear terms, how the Coalition Government intends to get on with the job of delivering the Basin Plan on time and in full,” Minister Ruston said.

Minister Ruston said that strengthening compliance across the Basin was a key part of this Agenda.

“I very much welcome the release by the MDBA of its Basin-wide review of compliance, which provides clear direction for all Basin governments on a range of matters including water theft, metering water use, protection of environmental water and compliance with the Basin Plan.

“In response, the Prime Minister has written to all Basin first ministers to urge their support for the recommendations and to work together on implementation.

“For our part we will act immediately to strengthen the MDBA’s capacity for ensuring compliance with the Basin Plan, forming part of the Government’s implementation agenda for delivering the Basin Plan.”

The Government’s six point implementation agenda includes:

  • Strengthening Compliance – by acting on the recommendations of the MDBA Review
  • Finalising remaining water recovery – including delivering the first tranche of efficiency measures required by June 2019, and agreeing a pathway to recover by 2024 the balance of the efficiency measures as agreed by Basin      governments
  • Delivering on the Northern Basin review – including reducing impacts on communities and supporting states to deliver environmental works and measures
  • Delivering the Sustainable Diversion Limit adjustment – including projects that reduce the water recovery task while achieving equivalent environmental outcomes
  • Finalising State Water Resource Plans – working closely with Basin states to finalise those plans to give full effect to the Basin Plan from 1 July 2019
  • Enhancing Monitoring and Communication – long-term monitoring of water recovery impacts and reinvigorating engagement with Basin communities to ensure better outcomes.

“As part of this six point implementation agenda, the government will deliver the first tranche of efficiency measures required by June 2019, and will work with Basin states on an agreed pathway to deliver the remainder as agreed by Basin ministers,” Minister Ruston said.

“Basin Plan implementation payments will be conditional on the development and delivery of compliant Water Resource Plans that respond to the Compliance Review recommendations.

“I thank Federal Labor for their bipartisan support for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and call on them to maintain that support.

“The Basin Plan is visionary, long-term policy that is delivering for all Basin communities and the environment. We have now achieved almost all the water recovery required under the Plan to be achieved by 2019–the equivalent to more than four times the volume of Sydney Harbour.

“That is 2100 GL of water that will be delivered back to the environment every year, on average.

“Across the Murray-Darling Basin, more than 10,000 individual irrigators are benefitting from improvements to water delivery systems with many of these irrigators now producing even more food and fibre, but with less water.

“We are almost through the toughest part of the Plan’s implementation and are on the verge of realising the vision of a secure and stable future for the Basin and its communities.

”Now is the time for leadership, vision and genuine action,” Minister Ruston said.   

Fast facts:

  • Government’s six point agenda in response to MDBA and Independent Panel review of compliance matters in the Murray-Darling Basin will help ensure the Basin Plan is delivered in full and on time.
  • The Government welcomes all efforts to improve compliance across the Murray-Darling Basin but is committed to ensuring reviews in place do not delay the full implementation of the Basin Plan.
  • The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is visionary, long-term policy that is delivering for Basin communities and the environment.
  • Almost all of the water recovery required under the Basin Plan has been achieved–2100 GL of water that will be delivered back to the environment every year, on average.
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