​​Media Release

$2 billion to waterproof our nation’s future

8 February 2017

  • The Coalition Government's $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility is now open, delivering on a key election commitment to build water infrastructure for the 21st century
  • Loans are available to state and territory governments to fast-track construction of priority water infrastructure projects across the country
  • To get projects under construction as quickly as possible, expressions of interests received by 16 March will be assessed before the end of this financial year; those received by 17 August will be assessed prior to 1 November this year

The potential to increase Australia's agricultural production into the future is a step closer, with applications now open for the Coalition Government's $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility to fund priority water projects across the country.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the loans would fast-track construction of the water infrastructure needed to support economic growth and prosperity, and strong and vibrant rural and regional communities.

"Our $57 billion agriculture sector already makes a massive contribution to our nation's wealth and way of life, but with the right infrastructure in the right place there is still potential to significantly grow our agricultural productivity and profitability," Minister Joyce said.

"Under the Australian Constitution state governments are primarily responsible for water management. However, I have noticed an under-investment in new water infrastructure in recent decades.

"That is why we are putting $2 billion of concessional loans on the table for the states and territories to partner with us in delivering the water infrastructure needed to help our agriculture sector reach its full potential.

"I urge state and territory governments to take advantage of this opportunity to get their priority water infrastructure projects off the drawing board and under construction more quickly."

Expressions of interests received by 16 March will be assessed before the end of this financial year; those received by 17 August will be assessed prior to 1 November this year. Expressions of interest will continue to be accepted until 30 June 2026 or until funding is fully committed.

Projects must have all regulatory and planning approvals in place, and be ready to commence construction within 12 months of funding being approved.

The Loan Facility will complement the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources are currently accepting applications under the construction component of this fund.

"I recently attended the G20 Agricultural Ministers' meeting and reaffirmed our commitment to the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes the goal of doubling agricultural productivity," Minister Joyce said.

"This government's investment in water infrastructure, the most significant investment in water infrastructure in our nation's history and a core government policy, is key to unlocking Australia's agricultural production potential and to delivering on our commitment to the UN's 2030 Agenda."

For more information on the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility, including Investment Guidelines, visit agriculture.gov.au/waterloans.

Fast facts

  • Australia's irrigated agricultural production was worth more than $15 billion in 2014–15—that's around 30% of the total value of our agricultural production
  • In 2014–15 Australia's most valuable irrigated agricultural commodities are fruit and nuts (excluding grapes), worth $2.88 billion; dairy products, worth $2.83 billion; and vegetables, worth $2.68 billion.
  • Australia has an accessible water storage capacity of almost 81,000 GL—that's the equivalent of 162 Sydney Harbours. This capacity is currently 72% full at 58,000 GL.