The Commonwealth Government has repeatedly committed to implementing the Basin Plan ‘on time and in full’, which means returning 3200 Gigalitres of water to the environment by 2024.

This rhetoric conceals a multitude of delays, compromises and obfuscation. Numerous reports and studies have highlighted that failure to effectively implement the Plan means there is now little chance of achieving the legislated Plan on budget, with the full volume of water, on time.

The Problems

  1. Recovering water for the environment has been stalled for several years, with little prospect of meeting the full amount in the legislated timeframe. In 2021, only about one third of the volume agreed in the plan was actually delivered for the environment
  2. Failure to deliver on a 2017 commitment for $40 million on water entitlements for First Nations. Not one drop of water has been
    acquired for First Nations communities.
  3. The government adopted strict, unrealistic socio-economic criteria to block on-farm water efficiency recovery projects that would have benefitted both irrigators and the environment.
  4. The government legislated a cap on water buy-backs, halting the most cost effective, efficient and transparent means of water recovery for the environment, while still insisting that legislated Plan targets would be met.
  5. The government ruled out every option for environmental water recovery except very expensive off-farm irrigation upgrades that yield little water.

The Solutions

  1. Remove the cap on voluntary water buy-backs and get on with cost effective, transparent and accountable recovery of real water for rivers.
  2. Deliver the promised $40 million funding and secure water entitlements for First Nations communities. 
  3. Provide transparent evidence of water returned to the environment from all irrigation infrastructure upgrades and efficiency projects.


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