Murray-Darling Basin Water Buybacks
Buybacks and infrastructure to improve farming efficiency will be central to the federal government’s plans to provide more water to the environment across the Murray-Darling Basin, Environment and Water Minister Tanya Plibersek has confirmed.
Plibersek, speaking to Sky News on Sunday, said even though much of south-east Australia was enduring floods at present, there would be future droughts that would strain basin communities, which would require access to environmental water flows.
An independent review, commissioned by the federal government and released in August, found a $1.8 billion fund to restore the health of the Murray-Darling system is failing due to rule changes championed by the Nationals in 2018 to block farmers from selling their irrigation rights.
The $1.8 billion was aimed at recovering 450 gigalitres of water, about the volume of Sydney Harbour, through voluntary water efficiency projects by private irrigators. It set a June 30, 2024 deadline for water recovery, which falls within this term of government.
But Plibersek said the previous government was never really committed to the fund, with just two gigalitres of water saved.