Tony BurkeYESTERDAY marked the culmination of more than a century of debate between the basin states as the final Murray-Darling Basin Plan became law.
In the presence of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Federal Water Minister Tony Burke signed off on the reform that will see 2750GL of surface water returned to the environment each year.
Mr Burke said the government had committed to delivering a plan that was “unequivocally and unapologetically” founded on restoring the system to health.
“For decades the Murray-Darling Basin was treated as though it ended at state borders,” Mr Burke said.
“It doesn’t and consistent over-allocation and mismanagement seriously degraded the system.
“Only a national plan was going to address the many problems fragmented administration brought.
“That’s what this government has delivered today.”
Significantly, the plan sets up a mechanism through which governments can improve economic, social or environmental outcomes on the condition that improving one does not recede either of the other two.
It also provides that an average of two millions tonnes of salt will be flushed from the basin each year through the Murray mouth, which the government hopes will remain open for more than nine of every 10 years as a result of the plan.
Doing so would significantly improve water quality in the system and prevent land denigration, Mr Burke said.
An extra $1.77 billion was also committed by the Federal Government to “relax key operations restraints and recover an additional 450GL of water a year” in an attempt to achieved improved environmental outcomes.
It was stressed that the government would do so through projects to ensure no “social and economic downsides” for basin communities.
While he reiterated that safeguarding the health of the Murray-Darling system was paramount, Mr Burke believed the plan would also support regional communities and ensure sustainable food production.
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.