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Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 399. Updated Tuesday, 04 March 2014

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States finally agree on Basin Plan

A new agreement to implement the Murray-Darling Basin Plan for water reform has finally been settled, with the last two States coming on board.

The Premiers of NSW and Queensland have signed the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on Implementing Water Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin and an amended National Partnership Agreement (NPA).

Prime Minister, Tony Abbott said a commitment to cap water purchases at 1,500 gigalitres and prioritising water infrastructure programs helped bring the two States on board.

Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory also agreed to sign the amended NPA.

The amendment allows NSW and Queensland to be eligible to receive all 2013-14 NPA funding.

As part of the agreement, the States have assured the Commonwealth they will not undo the more than $7 billion in water infrastructure projects set up under previous Governments.

Water reform funding to flow

The Prime Minister said the priorities were to ensure the Murray-Darling's food and fibre industries remain vibrant and sustainable, and that the river system on which they rely was restored to good health for the long term.

He said irrigation infrastructure upgrades were central to achieving the best productive outcomes from the Commonwealth's $13 billion expenditure on the Basin Plan, recovering vital water for the environment while enhancing the sustainability and viability of Basin communities.

Under the intergovernmental agreement all Basin Governments have agreed to support the Commonwealth's water recovery efforts, to work together on environmental works and measures, and to ensure that environmental water is delivered to where it is needed.

The Governments will also work to improve river and wetland health, enhance irrigation productivity and provide farmers and communities with more confidence to plan for the future.

The Federal Government has provided $32.5 million to NSW, $25 million to Victoria, $25 million to South Australia and $15 million to Queensland to help support regional communities adjust to the changes brought about by the plan.

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