Australia’s water minister hints at extension of Murray-Darling basin plan


Australia’s Commonwealth Water Minister, Tanya Plibersek, has hinted at a possible extension to the 2024 deadline for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, acknowledging the state’s difficulties in achieving the plan within the set timeframe.

At a meeting with the basin states on October 12, for the first time since Plibersek was appointed to the portfolio in May, Plibersek said the federal government is committed to the full implementation of the plan and how that will be achieved. He said he was “flexible” about whether.

“I have to be realistic about what the states and territories are telling me, but I’m still on the accelerator,” Priversek said in Canberra on 12 October. He spoke at the Water Ministers’ Meeting.

“I am pushing for 2024 implementation, but I admit it will be difficult to get there…We need a path to full implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.”

NSW and Victoria have previously said they will not be able to meet the 2024 deadline, with NSW demanding more time and money and Victoria calling the deadline “unrealistic”. says. Additionally, Victoria said additional water recovery for the 450 gigaliter efficiency project would only be considered if there were “no adverse socio-economic impacts and no buybacks.”

Plibersek has not committed to introducing water buybacks, which are opposed by NSW and Victoria, but believes that “voluntary buybacks” would be “very beneficial” to meet the 450 gigaliter target. I believe it is.

“As a priority, the Commonwealth will work with relevant communities and basin nations to close remaining gaps in water recovery, including through strategic purchases, and options to carefully consider opportunities to reach 450 gigaliters. will work on [environment water target]’, said a communiqué issued after the water ministers’ meeting, referring to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Current Status of the Murray-Darling Basin Project

Since the plan became law in 2012, more than 2,100 gigaliters of water have been returned to the environment. Under this plan, basin countries agreed to remove he 2,750 gigaliters of water from irrigated agriculture by 2024 and return it to the basin.

An additional 450 gigaliters of water were to be recovered due to “efficiency measures”, but only 2 gigaliters have been recovered. This target was set in 2018.

Part of the agreement under “efficiency measures” was that stringent conditions for water recovery would be met, such as not adversely affecting river communities.

Victorian Minister Lisa Neville at the time said the socio-economic test would apply to all watershed states.

“We each apply the same standards to all proposals and all projects to ensure that only projects that are neutral or have better socioeconomic outcomes are approved through this process,” Neville said. said in 2018.

However, South Australia’s Water Minister Susan Close called for the end of the socio-economic tests ahead of the water ministers’ meeting on 12 October.

“I will notify the eastern states,” she said, adding that her states “regardless of how No,’ he added.

Meanwhile, Waters Minister Kevin Anderson, New South Wales, called for greater flexibility in basin waters.

“We’re hearing the message loud and clear from the community that we need certainty from governments about how we’re going to address these major challenges,” Anderson said. statement.

“This action provides a pathway to achieve the intended outcomes in watershed planning, without sacrificing the communities that live and work in the watershed.”

Mr Anderson said NSW has committed to completing all water resource plans by the end of this year.

NSW is responsible for 20 of the 33 basin water resource plans that were due to be implemented in 2019.

The Basin Ministers will meet again in February 2023 to negotiate a decision to extend the Basin Plan.

Plibersek previously said it would be “nearly impossible” to submit a Murray-Darling Basin plan by the 2024 deadline.

Henry Jom


Henry Jom is an Australia-based reporter covering Australian local news. Please contact [email protected].