The Andrews Labor Government has achieved an historic agreement with other Basin states and the Commonwealth for a fair and balanced way forward for the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
Victoria’s motion to adopt strong socio-economic criteria for all water savings measures will ensure all future projects deliver neutral or positive impacts for communities that depend on the Basin.
At today’s Ministerial Council meeting in Melbourne, Victoria secured agreement on a number of important measures to ensure fair implementation of the Basin Plan that protects communities including:
- adoption of strong socio-economic criteria for all projects that could contribute to the 450 gigalitres of additional water recovery above the Plan’s 2,750 target
- agreement on a Victorian motion that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority will do extra work on deliverability, constraints and impacts of higher flows
- agreement on funding to allow states to get on with delivering vital environmental offset projects.
The socio-economic criteria reflect the neutrality test Victoria and New South Wales agreed upon this year, and will provide the community with confidence that socio-economic impacts will be properly addressed, including the consideration of cumulative, region-wide impacts, water prices and any impact on jobs.
Victorian has already done much of the heavy lifting on water recovery – and the adoption of these criteria will mean further recovery will need to have neutral or positive outcomes for communities.
In further progress, Aboriginal people – as the original custodians of the Murray-Darling Basin – will have a clear role in oversight of Basin Plan management, with Ministers agreeing to a dedicated Aboriginal Member on the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA). The Commonwealth will now amend the Water Act to action this.
The Labor Government has also heard the community’s concerns about the deliverability and impacts of higher flows on the environment, irrigators and other users, and has secured a commitment from Ministers for the MDBA to do further work on this important issue.
The Labor Government also welcomed the agreement to progress the environmental works and sustainable diversion limits projects. These projects will protect and improve the environment without further water buybacks – a win-win for the Basin.
As stated by Minister for Water Lisa Neville
“Today’s Ministerial Council was a great success and shows what can be achieved when all levels of government work together in the interest of local communities.”
“We’re continuing to implement the Murray Darling Basin Plan to benefit the environment, but not at the expense of the many communities so dependent on the Basin for jobs and their economic prosperity.”