Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Revised draft Basin Plan presented to water ministers

Media release
28 May 2012

Water Minister Tony Burke today welcomed the release of the revised draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan which has been formally provided to State and Territory water ministers for consideration.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority has not proposed any changes to the 2,750 gigalitre environmental water recovery target for surface water, but it significantly lowered the amount for groundwater extraction.

Mr Burke said this release of the revised draft plan is an important step along the road to lasting reform in the Murray-Darling Basin.

“Murray Darling Basin reform has been put in the too hard basket for too long. We have a once in a generation opportunity to get the reforms right” he said.

“The Government is committed to Murray Darling Basin reform which achieves three key outcomes: healthy rivers, strong communities and sustainable food production.

“I am particularly pleased to see the Authority take account of the many comments made during consultation about the high numbers for ground water extraction. I was personally alarmed by how high those groundwater numbers had been and I'm pleased to see them on the way down.

“I don't believe we have yet reached a plan I could sign off on and own personally, but we are getting closer.”

Mr Burke said he will now work with his state counterparts over the coming weeks to consider the revised plan and prepare a collective response.

“I will meet with my state counterparts twice in June to discuss the revised plan,” he said.

“We are working closely together and making significant progress towards achieving this important and historic water reform.

“Once the Ministerial Council has provided comment on the revised draft Basin Plan, the Authority will prepare a final plan for my consideration.

“Ultimately, I must be satisfied with the Plan before tabling it in Parliament later this year.”