​Media Release

Minister Joyce welcomes cap on Murray-Darling buy backs

14 September 2015

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, today welcomed the passage of the Water Amendment Bill, which will cap water purchases at 1,500 gigalitres, to protect the social and economic fabric of Murray Darling Basin communities.

“When I started my involvement with this issue as Shadow Minister for Water, the Australian Greens—via their spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young—was wanting to take 6,000 gigalitres which would have destroyed the economy of the Murray Darling Basin,” Minister Joyce said. 

“The Coalition had to negotiate for the economic and social survival of the Basin, and today’s delivery of a legislated cap is good news not only for irrigators, but also for the many Basin communities and livelihoods that are reliant on farming—from Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT down to Victoria and South Australia.”

Minister Joyce said that water is the lifeblood of rural Australia, particularly the Murray-Darling basin, and it’s the most basic but critical input to help feed and clothe our nation, and indeed many more across the world.

“It’s a resource that, on the driest inhabited continent on earth, must be managed strategically and with an eye on the future—and agriculture needs to be at the centre of this decision-making,” Minister Joyce said. 

“The government has long been committed to returning the Murray-Darling Basin to health while supporting agriculture—and this cap provides certainty for producers.

“It’s a legislation based on independent assessments, and provides a balance that will ensure our farmers and regional communities are viable and sustainable for the long-term.

“This decision shows a commitment to both agriculture and environmental outcomes, and we believe these two concepts can co-exist.”

Minister Joyce said the government was committed to modern water infrastructure.

“The Coalition Government recognises the need for modern and innovative water infrastructure to give our producers water security and certainty—that’s why the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper set aside $500 million to set up a National Water Infrastructure Development Fund,” Minister Joyce said.

“We’ve also set aside $50 million of these funds to support the necessary planning to decide on viable projects—to make sure each dollar is spent wisely. The remaining $450 million will go towards constructing water infrastructure projects, in partnership with state and territory governments and the private sector.

“Water is a precious resource, and one that the government is intent on safeguarding for future generations of Australians.”

Already more than 10,000 individual irrigators have benefited from the Government’s water efficiency programmes that underpin the Government’s approach to implementing the Basin Plan. ​