Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

New water purchase tenders announced

Media release
19 November 2010

The Gillard Government today announced that the next round of environmental water purchasing would start on 22 November 2010 with water purchase tenders in the southern-connected system and the Lower Balonne region of Queensland.

Up to $200 million will be made available for the tender in the southern Basin, which includes the Murrumbidgee. The Lower Balonne tender will have a budget of up to $100 million.

These tenders form part of the Gillard Government’s $3.1 billion Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin program, under its Water for the Future initiative.

Minister for Water, Tony Burke, said the tenders would help deliver the Government’s commitment to ‘bridge the gap’ in the final Basin Plan.

“Water purchasing is one way that the Government returns water to the environment to help restore the river to health.

“By combining this program with investments in irrigation infrastructure and through support to local governments under the Strengthening Basin Communities program, we can create a Basin Plan that restores the river to health, supports strong regional communities and ensures the importance of food production.

“Water purchases through this round will be counted as part of the final sustainable diversion limits in the Murray Darling Basin Plan.”

The southern-connected system and the Queensland Lower Balonne have been identified in the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Guide to the proposed Basin Plan as regions where the unmet environmental watering needs are potentially greatest.

“We don’t know the extent to which the numbers in the Guide will be reflected in the final Plan, even if those numbers were substantially reduced there would still be a significant gap to bridge in these catchments.”

These tenders will add to the progress the Government has already made on environmental water recovery.

Guidelines and the application form will be available from 22 November 2010.

For copies of the guidelines and application form call 1800 218 478 or visit