MORE than eighty water experts have convened in Canberra today to talk through the opportunities and barriers for investment in water infrastructure and dams in Australia.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the roundtable brought together everyone involved in water infrastructure from across the country—including investors, representatives of irrigators, mining and power industries, financiers, state and territory governments, local governments and construction companies.
“We have before us some great opportunities to build capacity in water infrastructure. Today’s about inviting investors and banks to meet key stakeholders and discuss investment options. It’s an important first step in getting these nation-building projects off the ground,” Minister Joyce said.
“Today, I have also released the Options Paper from the Water Infrastructure Ministerial Working Group. As Chair of the working group, we identified 27 projects which should be a priority to progress, from 63 projects submitted by the states and territories and identified by the working group. Four projects shortlisted have already been funded with Commonwealth assistance.
“We know water is wealth and stored water is a bank. Water is a vital resource for Australia, but we need to strategically plan our future water infrastructure so we can better utilise this precious resource to drive prosperity and improve sustainability in rural industries and regional economies.
“If no new dams are built in the future Australia’s water storage capacity will fall to 2.6MLs per person by 2050. This is a serious issue for us all, and one that the Coalition Government is committed to tackling.
“The shortlist of priority projects identified by the working group was included in the Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper, which I launched last week. Submissions are open online until 12 December 2014, so I encourage everyone with strong views on water infrastructure to lodge a submission and have their views heard,” Minister Joyce said.
The Water Infrastructure Ministerial Working Group Options Paper is online at: www.agriculture.gov.au/natural-resources/waterworkinggroup
Submissions to the green paper can be lodged online at: www.agriculturalcompetitiveness.dpmc.gov.au