​Media Release

Building water infrastructure for Australia’s future—from the bottom up

Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Deputy Premier and Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Jeremy Rockliff
Senator for Tasmania, Jonathon Duniam


7 March 2017​

  • The Acting Prime Minister has inspected works underway on the $31 million Southern Highlands Irrigation Scheme which will increase water security for local irrigators.
  • This project will provide high reliability irrigation water to local irrigators.
  • The Swan Valley and Duck Schemes are also under construction as part of the Tasmania Irrigation Tranche II programme.
  • The Federal Coalition government is also investing $1.78 million towards a $2.5 million project with Tasmanian Irrigation to fast-track a feasibility study into potential new areas for developing irrigation schemes in Tasmania.

Construction is already underway on the next round of Tasmanian Irrigation projects to support regional development and strong and sustainable growth in Tasmania's irrigated agriculture sector.

Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, Tasmanian Deputy Premier and Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Jeremy Rockliff, and Tasmanian Senator, Jonathon Duniam, said works were progressing quickly on the $31 million project to expand the Southern Highlands Irrigation Scheme, the first project to break ground under Tasmanian Irrigation Tranche II.

"The Coalition Government is contributing up to $60 million to the Tasmanian Irrigation Tranche II program, including $15 million towards works to expand the Southern Highlands Irrigation Scheme, which I've been pleased to inspect today," Minister Joyce said.

"This government has a vision for building the water infrastructure needed for our nation to reach its full economic and productive potential, and we are making unprecedented levels of funding available to make it happen.

"It's a vision shared by the Tasmanian Government, who, together with local irrigators, have co-invested with us to deliver the exciting and important projects under Tasmanian Irrigation II.

"Now through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility, we are putting $2.5 billion on the table to incentivise other state and territory governments to follow suit and get priority water infrastructure projects off the drawing board and under construction more quickly.

"I call on other states to follow Tasmania's lead and take advantage of this opportunity to fast-track the water infrastructure of the future."

​Minister Rockliff said that delivering highly reliable irrigation water across the state is a key part of the Tasmanian Government's AgriVision 2050, our plan to achieve a tenfold increase in the value of our agricultural sector to $10 billion by 2050," Mr Rockliff said.

​"The Southern Highlands around Bothwell is one of the state's key grazing and cropping districts but has lacked sufficient water to achieve its full productive potential.

"This scheme will help transform agriculture in the entire valley.

"Having the right infrastructure in the right place will give farmers the water security they need to be able to invest and diversify their businesses with confidence."

Senator Jonathon Duniam, said the Coalition Government's commitment to the Tasmanian Irrigation Tranche II program also included $25 million approved for the Swan Valley and Duck Schemes, which are also under construction. The proposed Scottsdale and North Esk Schemes currently in the planning and approvals phase.

"We want to see job-creating, productivity building water infrastructure projects getting underway across the country, driving greater investment and regional development to build our nation's wealth," Senator Duniam said.

"The Coalition Government will continue to work with Tasmania in building the infrastructure needed for their agriculture sector to reach its full potential.

"In addition to funding for Tasmanian Irrigation Tranche II, we are investing $1.78 million towards a $2.5 million project with Tasmanian Irrigation to to fast-track a feasibility study into potential new areas for developing irrigation schemes in Tasmania."

For more information on Australian Government funding of irrigation in Tasmania, visit agriculture.gov.au/water/national/tasmania

For information on Tasmanian Irrigation, visit www.tasmanianirrigation.com.au

​Fast Facts

  • The Southern Highlands Irrigation Scheme will include a 7.6 GL storage dam at Southernfield, 1 MW pump station on the Shannon River and 58 km of distribution pipeline.
  • Tasmania represents less than 1% of Australia's land mass, but has 12% of the nation's fresh water resources.
  • Tasmanian Irrigation schemes are a public–private model where projects works are funded jointly by the Australian and Tasmanian governments and farmers.