Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment
$240m boost to SA River Murray communities
29 November 2013
South Australia's irrigation districts will receive a major investment in their future with $240 million of Federal Government funds to begin flowing into the these areas.
Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, today announced that he had approved the guidelines for key components of the South Australian River Murray Sustainability Program.
"The funding will support significant investment to improve efficiency and productivity by farmers along the River Murray, providing better economic and job prospects for river towns and communities," Senator Birmingham said.
"South Australia boasts innovative and productive irrigators, and every dollar of this investment will promote economic growth.
"Importantly, the funding will also secure the return of 40 gigalitres of water entitlements to support the Federal Government's implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
"The Abbott Government is committed to delivering the Basin Plan in full and on time, but in ways that best protect the economic future of river communities.
"Labor undertook too many non-strategic buybacks of water and left too much land unproductive. This program should lead to more land being used more efficiently, not less."
There are three components comprising the $240 million, with $80 million supporting efficiency upgrades to irrigation systems, $40 million involving purchase of entitlements and $120 million available to participants who access either the efficiency or purchase components for economic development initiatives. A further $25 million for regional economic development projects is being administered separately.
Funding will be provided over six years, with $30 million of the total $265 million investment expected to begin flowing this year.
"These funds will be administered by the South Australian Government who I expect to drive maximum bang for buck for irrigators and local communities, maximising future economic and employment benefits," Senator Birmingham said.
"I pay tribute to the many people in South Australia's river communities who have lobbied over a long period of time to make this funding a reality and wish them every success with the projects it will support."