The Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water, Media Release, 30 November 2023
The Albanese Labor Government’s bill to rescue the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has passed the Senate, and is now set to pass the Parliament.
This is a historic day for the Murray-Darling Basin and the communities, industries, farmers, First Nations groups and environment that rely on it.
For almost a decade, the Liberal and National parties undermined and sabotaged the Plan. They stood in the way of water recovery programs, blocking efforts to keep enough water aside for drinking water and the environment. In fact, of the 450 gigalitres of environmental water in the Plan, the Liberals and Nationals delivered just two in nine years.
As a result of their mismanagement, the Plan was off track and unable to be achieved.
This was a disaster for the 3 million Australians who rely on the rivers for their drinking water, the 2.5 million Australians who live in the Basin, and the threatened plants on animals who depend on it for their survival.
Before the election, Labor promised to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full. Passing this legislation means we will keep that promise.
Our Restoring our Rivers Bill offers more time, more options, more accountability, and more transparency. It guarantees the 450GL of water for the environment and gives communities confidence that we’ll deliver on our commitments.
This legislation builds on the work we’ve already done to deliver water saving infrastructure and purchase water from willing sellers to help meet the Plan’s targets.
This new law comes at a critical time. With another drought around the corner, and the deadlines of the original plan about to expire, we know we had act now.
By passing this Bill, we are ensuring a healthy and sustainable future for Australia’s largest river system.
Quotes attributable to Tanya Plibersek, Minister for the Environment and Water:
“This is one the biggest things any government has done for the environment in a decade.
“I said from day one that I was determined to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full, including the 450GL of water for the environment. That’s what I’ve done.
“The Liberals and Nationals spent a decade waging a guerrilla war against the Plan. They never intended to deliver the Plan, in fact they actively undermined it at every turn, and they lied to communities about it.
“In contrast, we’ve worked with people across the Parliament to strengthen this legislation and make it law. This is what good government does – it works collaboratively in the national interest.
“For too long, Basin communities have been let down. Delivering this water is one of the most significant things we can do to protect the environment in this country.”