The Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council met in Melbourne in December 2018 to agree on next steps in progressing the Basin Plan.

The agreements secured at the meeting by all Basin States and the Commonwealth will ensure fair a and balanced way forward for the Murray Darling Basin Plan including;

  • adoption of socio-economic criteria for all projects that could contribute to the 450 gigalitres of additional water recovery above the Plan’s 2,750 GL target
  • agreement that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority will lead urgent work to address River Murray delivery challenges
  • agreement on funding to allow states to get on with delivering vital environmental offset projects.

Adopting 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.

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.

In further progress, Aboriginal people – as the original custodians of the Murray-Darling Basin – will have a stronger 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.

Ministers asked the Murray-Darling Basin Authority as a critical priority to assess the future likelihood of delivery shortfalls in the River Murray considering changing consumptive and environmental water use patterns, and consider the full range of options to  manage these risks.  Ministers also asked the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to immediately assess the risks to deliverability of water over summer 2018/19 and to communicate this with communities, along with measures in place to mitigate these risks.

We welcome the agreement to progress the Victorian environmental works and sustainable diversion limits projects. These projects will protect and improve the environment without further water buybacks.

Arial image of Lake Barmah

Lake Barmah