Minister for Resources and Water, Keith Pitt has unveiled a new instalment to the Murray–Darling Communities Investment Package as part of the Federal Budget.
“We’ve made great strides in the past 18 months to put people back at the centre – putting a stop to buybacks, empowering local people to improve their stretch of river and boosting the economic outlook of their towns and businesses,” Minister Pitt said.
“This investment in our regional and rural communities is about maintaining the momentum and the cornerstone measure to achieve this is Healthy Rivers – Healthy Communities, a $97 million grant program that will keep delivering real, on-ground benefits to communities while improving the health of our rivers.
“We’ve listened to communities and we’re adding a fourth pillar to our commitments in the Murray–Darling Communities Investment Package – improving water security for all water users.
“We’ll do this by ensuring we have the best evidence available to put the right infrastructure in place in the right areas through a $2.6 million, 12-month independent technical assessment of existing and potential infrastructure in the southern Murray–Darling Basin.
“This will guarantee improved water delivery to boost agricultural productivity, mitigate flood and drought impacts as well as improve environmental outcomes.”
Additional measures in the 2022 package:
- Put boots on the ground to strengthen community links with the Inspector General of Water Compliance
- Progress state-supported water market reforms
- Extend the Indigenous River Rangers program to 2024-25, supporting Indigenous communities to get more involved in river management and conservation.
- Fund critical renewal work at Hume Dam to ensure safety requirements are met and water entitlement holders downstream continue to receive their allocations.
- Work to upgrade Murray–Darling Basin river models to help water managers make timelier, more reliable and transparency water management decisions.
“These measures, provide the boost Basin communities need to generate jobs, economic activity and improve the health of rivers and wetlands while maintaining our commitment to implementing the Basin Plan,” Minister Pitt said.
“We’re also expanding the popular On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme, so livestock and horticultural farmers who have been impacted by natural disasters, drought or recurring severe weather events can access it.
“Extending the program for another year means farmers right across Australia who need support to build their resilience can access every last drop of available funding to install pumps, tanks, dams and bores.”
Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said the Parkes electorate is already reaping the benefits and rewards of the 2020 package.
“Hundreds of projects have rolled out across the Basin under the Economic Development Program and Healthy Rivers Programs to the benefit of those who live and rely on the Basin every day,” Mr Coulton said.
“It’s this sort of practical, on-ground package that makes a real difference for the thousands of locals in the Parkes electorate who have had to deal with the devastating challenges of drought, COVID-19, fires and now floods.
“I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and hitting the road from town to town across the Parkes electorate, supporting community members to access these initiatives so together we can deliver the best possible outcomes for our region.”
What are the measures?
- 2022 Murray–Darling Communities Investment Package are:
- Healthy Rivers – Healthy Communities: $97 million to 2023-24 for grants to community groups, the irrigation industry, Basin stakeholders, and state governments to improve local river health, enhance environmental outcomes, and strengthen and diversify regional economies and Basin communities.
- Modernising Murray River Systems initiative: $2.6 million to 2023-24 to improve water security for all water users by optimising the management of rivers across the southern Basin.
- Progressing Murray–Darling Basin water markets for our future: $2.1 million in 2022-23 for detailed development work to implement early actions to improve water markets.
- Building community confidence in water compliance: initiatives to enable the Inspector General of Water Compliance to fulfil his legislative functions, including an on-ground field operations team.
- On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme extension: $16 million in 2022-23 to allow eligible farmers to claim a rebate towards water resilient infrastructure following natural disasters and severe weather events, not just drought.
- MYEFO measures:
- Reducing infrastructure network system losses within the Murray Irrigation system: $35.1 million to 2023-24 to improve existing water delivery infrastructure across the Murray Irrigation network.
- Indigenous River Rangers extension: $12.2 million to 2024-25 to deliver real jobs on the ground and support Indigenous people get more involved in river management and waterway health.
- Critical renewal work for the Hume Dam: $6.7 million to 2027-28 will ensure dam safety requirements are met and water entitlement holders continue to receive water allocations through effective management and maintenance of Hume Dam.
- Improve river modelling: $66 million for work to upgrade Murray–Darling Basin river models to help water managers make timelier, more reliable and transparency water management decisions.