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Government signs off on Murray-Darling Basin Plan

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan has been approved by the Federal Government.

TRENT HORNEMAN November 23, 2012 4:11am

The Federal Government has signed off on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Federal Water Minister Tony Bourke approved the final plan yesterday, paving the way for 2750 gigalitres of surface water to be returned to the environment.

The government also committed $1.77billion to relax key operating constraints and to recover an extra 450Gl to achieve environmental targets for the basin.

‘‘It sets up a mechanism which allows governments to improve environmental, social or economic outcomes provided that improving one doesn’t sacrifice others,’’ he said.

Member for Rodney Paul Weller and Victorian Water Minister Peter Walsh want an agreement on issues surrounding the plan’s implementation.

‘‘Victoria will now carefully examine all aspects and details of this plan as we await the finalisation of the inter-governmental agreement and the water recovery strategy,’’ Mr Walsh said.

‘‘We need to ensure that what has been released today reflects the constructive discussions that have been occurring between Victoria and the Commonwealth water ministers’ offices.’’

National Farmers’ Federation and Victorian Farmers Federation have accepted the plan, despite having reservations.

NFF president Jock Laurie and VFF Water Council chairman Richard Anderson said while the plan needed more work, they believed the Federal Government had listened to their concerns.

‘‘At the end of the day, we want to find a system where the environment can be cared for while not taking water from the region’s irrigators,’’ Mr Anderson said.

Environmental groups have lashed out at the plan, saying it was not enough to improve the health of the basin.

However Goulburn Valley Environmental Group’s Terry Court said while research showed more water was needed for the health of the system, the plan as it stood was mindful of environmental and food production issues.

‘‘Irrigation is important for communities in the region,’’ he said.

‘‘We welcome the commitment to streamlining irrigation systems to be able to find the best way to use water.’’

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