The Morrison Joyce Government has unveiled a new instalment to the Murray–Darling Communities Investment Package as part of the Federal Budget.
Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, has welcomed the $97 million to 2023-24, for the Healthy Rivers – Healthy communities’ program.
Mr Joyce, who is also Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional, said New England is already reaping the benefits and rewards of the 2020 package.
“Hundreds of projects have rolled out across the Basin under the Economic Development Program and Healthy Rivers Programs to the benefit of those who live and rely on the Basin every day.
“It’s this sort of practical, on-ground package that makes a real difference for the thousands of New England locals who have had to deal with the devastating challenges of drought, Covid-19, fires and now floods.
“I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and hitting the road from town to town across New England supporting community members access these initiatives so together we can deliver the best possible outcomes for our region.” The Deputy Prime Minister said.
Minister for Resources and Water, Keith Pitt, said “We’ve made great strides in the past 18 months to put people back at the centre – putting a stop to buybacks, empowering local people to improve their stretch of river and boosting the economic outlook of their towns and businesses.”
“This investment in our regional and rural communities is about maintaining the momentum and the cornerstone measure to achieve this is Healthy Rivers – Healthy Communities, a $97 million grant program that will keep delivering real, on-ground benefits to communities while improving the health of our rivers.
“We’ve listened to communities and we’re adding a 4th pillar to our commitments in the Murray–Darling Communities Investment Package – improving water security for all water users.
“We’ll do this by ensuring we have the best evidence available to put the right infrastructure in place in the right areas through a $2.6 million, 12-month independent technical assessment of existing and potential infrastructure in the southern Murray–Darling Basin.
“This will guarantee improved water delivery to boost agricultural productivity, mitigate flood and drought impacts as well as improve environmental outcomes.”
Additional measures in the 2022 package:
- put boots on the ground to strengthen community links with the Inspector General of Water Compliance
- progress state-supported water market reforms
- extend the Indigenous River Rangers program to 2024-25, supporting Indigenous communities to get more involved in river management and conservation.
- fund critical renewal work at Hume Dam to ensure safety requirements are met and water entitlement holders downstream continue to receive their allocations.
- work to upgrade Murray–Darling Basin river models to help water managers make timelier, more reliable and transparent water management decisions.
“These measures, provide the boost Basin communities need to generate jobs, economic activity and improve the health of rivers and wetlands while maintaining our commitment to implementing the Basin Plan.
“We’re also expanding the popular On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme, so livestock and horticultural farmers who have been impacted by natural disasters, drought or recurring severe weather events can access it.
“Extending the program for another year means farmers right across Australia who need support to build their resilience can access every last drop of available funding to install pumps, tanks, dams and bores.”