The Coalition Government delivered on yet another election commitment this week with the Water Amendment Bill 2015 passing through the Senate.
Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton has 25 percent of the Murray-Darling Basin located in his electorate and he welcomes the certainty that this legislation provides to the communities surrounding the Basin.
“This legislation caps water buybacks in the Murray-Darling Basin to 1500 gigaltires (GL), and is something I’ve been working towards,” Mr Coulton said.
“It will give irrigators and farmers in our community business certainty so they can continue to plan for the future.
“Our approach to water reform is internationally recognised and this Bill shows real progress is being made in supporting our farmers.”
The Basin Plan represents the culmination of more than two decades of water reform, two decades of bipartisanship, and two decades of cooperation between all Basin Governments.
The 1500GL cap on water purchases was one of the Coalition’s key pre-election commitments.
“It is important to recognise that the 1500GL cap is a ceiling, not a target, and the recovery of water will be prioritised through investment in on and off-farm infrastructure,” Mr Coulton said.
An independent stocktake into the Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) adjustment mechanism, released late last month, gave all parties confidence that Basin projects are on track and will deliver for communities and the environment.
To date 1164.6GL of water has been purchased, leaving 335.4GL of ‘headroom’ before the 1500GL limit would be reached.
The Bill also amends the Basin Plan to broaden the types of efficiency projects to include participation by consumptive water users in off-farm efficiency projects.
As part of the Basin Plan water reforms, the Australian Government is making an unprecedented capital investment of almost $6 billion in the future of irrigated agriculture in the Basin.