Murray-Darling Basin Plan
Monday 17 June update
On Thursday 6 June, Victoria became the first Basin State to
sign the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for the implementation
of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
In doing so, the Victorian Minister, Peter Walsh said the IGA
addressed all of the State's key concerns.
"The IGA and the funding agreement were the next important steps
for an agreed approach to securing the health of the Murray-Darling
Basin in a way which also ensures a future for Basin communities,"
Minister Walsh said.
The IGA and funding agreement provide Victoria with $14.3million
to develop projects to offset the volume of water required to be
recovered under the Basin Plan; $47.4 million to assist with
implementing the Plan and a commitment to further consultation on
the delivery of the $100 million Murray-Darling Basin Regional
Economic Diversification Program.
Shortly after Victoria, the ACT also signed the IGA.
The NSW Government is refusing to sign-up to the IGA because it
says the implementation plan does not address its key concerns
including groundwater, a limit on buyback and fair
NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson said
there are concerns about how the Plan will impact on regional
Minister Hodgkinson is maintaining the position that NSW has
held since the Basin Plan was signed into law and says that nothing
in the IGA has changed to allow her to sign on. Her position has
won the support of NSW Irrigators' Council.
South Australia have not yet signed onto the IGA despite
claiming it is "just days away" from doing so and conservationists
and South Australian Irrigators alike calling on them to do so.
The IGA does not identify the methodology for the SDL adjustment
mechanism or explain how offsets to reduce water recovery will be
calculated. It identifies use of return flows and water
shepherding as issues, but does not offer any explanation of how
they will be calculated.
It does however state that environmental water must be delivered
within capacity constraints, but also requires participating states
to work with the Commonwealth to identify constraints and
management mechanisms and reconfirms the Federal commitment of $200
million to address capacity constraints.
Victorian Ministerial media release here:
Minister Hodgkinson article here:
Basin Plan law - Thursday, 29 November 2012
The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is now secure in its legal
standing with disallowance motions in both the House of
Representatives and the Senate failing in the last sitting week of
Parliament for 2012.
In developing the Basin Plan, the Commonwealth Government and
the Murray-Darling Basin Authority have consistently failed to
justify the need for the high volume of water recovery proposed;
however, the Plan has come a long way from its origins where it was
assumed all water recovery would be by compulsory acquisition or
changes to allocation or reliability.
The Basin Plan outlined earlier today by the Minister calls for
a water recovery target of 2,750GL. This includes the 971GL
southern zone shared recovery target that has been apportioned
between the states as agreed by the Basin Ministers. For the
NSW Murray, the local recovery target is 262GL (of which 225GL has
been recovered and the rest is under contract) and a
portion (estimated to be 192GL) of the NSW shared recovery target
The Basin Plan includes a sustainable diversion limit (SDL)
adjustment mechanism that allows the 2,750GL recovery target to be
adjusted upwards (through new efficiency programs and constraints
removal) or downwards (through offsets from non-entitlement
initiatives, such as environmental works and measures).
The adjustment mechanism also includes a requirement for the
Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to conduct public
consultation before finalising the proposed adjustment amounts.
The water recovery is anticipated as being:
- 2,100GL - Current recovery programs including PIIOP, OFIEP,
State priority projects and buy back
- 650GL - Equivalent recovery through works
and measures and better use of water (non-entitlement)
- 450GL - New efficiency programs, primarily
on-farm, to be rolled out from 2017-2024 after
The Minister said he hopes to minimise buyback but that it
remains an option if the States fail to put forward the full 650GL
worth of water savings projects.
It is important to remember that water entitlement will
not change unless an individual entitlement holder chooses to
participate in a recovery program.
It is now time to shift our focus onto the Plan's
implementation. The development of the constraints management
strategy and the environmental watering plan are just two areas
that can have a significant impact on our region if they don't get
There is no doubt the implementation of the Basin Plan will
present significant challenges for Murray Irrigation and its
customers and these risks must be managed and opportunities taken
when they arise.
The Basin Plan is a Commonwealth Plan. The NSW Government
has some significant unresolved issues about the Plan which it is
seeking to have addressed through the proposed Intergovernmental
Agreement (IGA) between the Commonwealth and the States. One
of these issues is the Commonwealth Government's direct purchase of
entitlements. The NSW Government this week announced it will
legislate to limit Commonwealth water purchases to three percent of
entitlements every 10 years effective from 15 January 2013 if a cap
is not included in the IGA.
Thursday 22 November update
The Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population
and Communities, Tony Burke, today signed the final Murray-Darling
Basin Plan into law.
Click below links to read the various Press
Murray Group of Concerned Communities
Click the link below to view all of the Basin Plan
The Water Amendment (Long Term Sustainable Diversion Limit
Adjustment) Bill 2012 passed the Parliament prior to the signing of
the Basin Plan into law. This amendment enables the
application of the adjustment mechanism.
The Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account)
Bill 2012 appropriates funds for a further $1.77 billion
through to 2024 for further water recovery of 450GL and
addressing constraints. This Bill has passed the House of
Representatives and is due to be voted on by the Senate in early
To view the submissions made by Murray Irrigation, please click
on the link below.
To view Murray Irrigation's response to the
Ministerial Council, click here.
For more information please visit the below