Australia: Agreement Signed on Murray-Darling Basin Plan

Murray-Darling Basin irrigators and communities will receive economic and environmental benefits after the Queensland and New South Wales Governments inked the Intergovernmental Agreement on Implementing Water Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin and an amended National Partnership Agreement.

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said he had fought hard to secure the best possible deal for Queensland irrigators and communities in the Basin and was pleased to see a sensible and proactive Commonwealth Government deliver for Queensland.

“The Newman Government has been a strong voice for the Murray-Darling Basin and I am pleased to see funding commitments finally delivered to irrigators and local communities,” Mr Cripps said.

“Prior to this agreement I urged the Commonwealth Government to progress a northern Basin Scientific Work Program to examine the science underpinning the water recovery figures in Queensland.

“The agreement will help deliver real economic benefits for business, support the continued growth of Murray-Darling communities and protect the health of the river system.

This agreement also provides more than $13 million in funding over the next six years to enable Queensland to deliver on a range of obligations under the Basin Plan and an additional $5.3 million for a range of scientific projects which will inform the further review of the plan.

“I also welcome a $15 million funding commitment from the Abbott Government, negotiated with Senator Birmingham for the Regional Economic Diversification Program to support regional communities in adjusting to the changes brought about the by plan.”

Mr Cripps said the commitment from the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments would help to strengthen Queensland’s agriculture economy and deliver much needed transparency and certainty to irrigators in the Basin.

“The former Rudd and Gillard Government’s failed dismally to support Queensland and New South Wales in the original agreement,” he said.

“Now we have a responsive and practical Commonwealth Government that has listened to Queensland’s needs and committed to cap water purchases and prioritise water infrastructure programs.”

Mr Cripps said he had also worked hard to see the green tape associated with the Healthy Headwaters program reduced to deliver real support for the irrigators.

“This year alone we have seen $11 million injected into Queensland’s Murray-Darling Basin communities through round five of the Healthy HeadWaters Water Use Efficiency project,” he said.

“Through this funding, irrigators will gain access to modern irrigation technologies and practices, delivering efficient and sustainable farm production.”

The Intergovernmental Agreement on Implementing Water Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin and the associated National Partnership Agreement of Murray Darling Basin Intergovernmental Agreement will ensure Queensland can meet its obligations under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Press Release, February 27, 2014

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