​Media Release

Water Act improvements deliver greater certainty for Basin communities

3 December 2015

The Australian Government today introduced the Water Amendment (Review Implementation and Other Measures) Bill 2015 to reduce red tape and ensure the Water Act 2007 more effectively supports the delivery of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, today tabled the Government’s full response to the Report of the independent review of the Water Act 2007 alongside the legislation.

“The government supports, in full or in part, all 23 of the recommendations made by the expert panel,” Minister Joyce said.

“These recommendations will improve the operation of the Water Act, to support more efficient and effective delivery of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan and its economic, social and environmental benefits.

“While the independent review found that the fundamentals of the Water Act remain sound, implementing these recommendations will improve the practical operation of the Water Act to better support the economic, social and environmental benefits that the Murray–Darling Basin Plan is designed to deliver.

“Water is a precious resource for our communities, economies and the environment, and continues to be a critical input for agriculture. 

“I thank the expert panel—Eamonn Moran PSM QC, Peter Anderson, Dr Steve Morton and Gavin McMahon—for their efforts in reviewing the Act.

“Our response to the review of the Water Act underlines our continuing commitment to implement the Murray–Darling Basin Plan in ways that seek to achieve positive social and economic outcomes.”

The Water Amendment Bill will deliver positive outcomes for agriculture, communities and the environment by requiring five-early reviews of socioeconomic impacts of the Basin Plan, deferring the next statutory review point for the Basin Plan to 2026 and providing more scope for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to undertake complementary environmental work.

“Our vision for the future of the Basin is of sustainable agricultural production, healthy rivers and strong communities,” Minister Joyce said.

“That is why we are undertaking the most significant water infrastructure programme in Australian history, investing an average of around $2.5 million dollars every day in infrastructure upgrades to support the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental outcomes.

“We have also legislated a cap on water purchases of 1,500 gigalitres, to help protect the social and economic wellbeing of the many Basin communities that are dependent on farming.

“I particularly thank state and territory governments and community and industry stakeholders who provided input to the Water Act Review and the Government’s Response and contributed to its success. 

To read the Australian Government response to the independent review of the Water Act 2007, visit: http://www.environment.gov.au/water/publications/water-act-review-govt-response.

The Water Amendment Bill can be accessed on the APH website: aph.gov.au​