Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Basin plan becomes law

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan was signed into law by Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke yesterday, following years of debate about the future of the river system.

DARREN LINTON November 23, 2012 4:40am

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke yesterday signed the Murray-Darling Basin Plan into law.

After years of debate, public hearings and reports, Federal Water Minister Tony Burke used Twitter to announce the Murray-Darling Basin Plan had been adopted and signed into law.

‘‘The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is now law,’’ Mr Burke tweeted just after noon yesterday with an accompanying photo of himself and Prime Minister Julia Gillard signing the documents.

A formal statement and public release of the final documents followed.

‘‘The government has accepted the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s recommendation of a Basin plan that returns 2750Gl of surface water to the environment,’’ Mr Burke said.

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

The southern Basin Victoria zone will have to contribute 425.3Gl a year under the plan.

This zone is made up of the Broken, Campaspe, Goulburn, Kiewa, Loddon, Ovens and Victorian Murray irrigation systems.

The plan comes after more than than 100 years of disagreement.

‘‘The government has also committed to provide an additional $1.77billion to relax key operating constraints and recover an additional 450Gl of environmental water to look to achieve the environmental outcomes described in the 3200Gl modelling and do so through projects to ensure there is no social and economic downside for communities,’’ Mr Burke said.

Mr Burke said for decades states had treated rivers as if they ended at state borders.

Consequently, consistent water overallocation and mismanagement had seriously degraded the system’s health.

‘‘By the time the last drought hit, the Basin’s ecosystems had essentially been living in drought conditions and had no resilience to cope,’’ he said.

‘‘Only a national plan was going to address the many problems fragmented administration brought. That’s what this government has delivered today in this Plan.

‘‘We have done everything we can to minimise the impact on communities short of saying we will make a compromise on the health of the system because history has shown that if you negotiate too hard against a river, it negotiates back in a completely uncompromising way and that’s in no-one’s interest.’’

Mr Burke said the plan would deliver vital additional water to the Basin, including to 40000ha of iconic vegetation such as the river red gums.


It will also flush an average of two million tonnes of salt from the Basin each year.

‘‘This is enough salt to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground and it’s the volume required to ensure the system is healthy,’’ he said.

Despite the shift in water use, Mr Burke said the plan would also ensure strong regional communities and sustainable food production.

‘‘I have been clear from the start that this government intended to deliver reform that restores the rivers to health and ensured strong regional communities and a vibrant irrigation industry,’’ Mr Burke said.

‘‘That’s why the government committed to bridge the gap to the sustainable diversion limits, which includes spending $5.2 billion on irrigation infrastructure, which is contributing to increased irrigation productivity and providing valuable employment benefits during design and construction phases.’’



comments powered by Disqus
Shepparton logo

A step in the right direction

Victoria Park Lake to be venue for the JDRF One Walk Shepparton to promote the awareness about Type 1 diabetes next month.

shepp mags

The News magazines are online - read high quality magazines in your time. Check in regularly for the latest editions.

Echuca mag

Riverine Herald's well regarded locally produced magazines. They're now online, so you can read them whenever and wherever you like.


Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.


Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.