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Murray-Darling agreement must deliver for the river

While the Victorian Government’s decision to join the national water plan is welcome, all parties to ensure the agreement quickly translates into real results for the Murray River.

“The Victorian Government’s decision to get on board means we finally have a national framework for action, but words and new institutional arrangements alone won't save the river,” said Healthy Rivers Campaigner Amy Hankinson.

“The best way to restore the Murray River to health is to urgently buy back over-allocated water licences,” she said.

ACF has called on Treasurer Wayne Swan to include significant money in May’s Federal Budget for buying back water from willing sellers to arrest the decline of the Murray and its wildlife.

“The deal the Victorian Government has secured is not the best deal for the Murray.

“If the environment only gets 100 billion litres of the water saved from an investment of $1 billion, it will be paying $10,000 per megalitre of water – around four times the cost of high water prices on the market now.

“Studies by ABARE, the Productivity Commission and others have shown buying back water is the quickest and most cost-effective way to make a difference to the Murray.

“The Federal Government has taken a lead by announcing recently it would spend $50 million this financial year to buy back water entitlements in the Murray-Darling Basin.

“We urge the Federal Government to further its commitment in the Budget.

“Now that all the relevant states are involved we need to ensure the national approach delivers what it has promised – a healthy Murray-Darling.”