The Murray-Darling Basin could be set for an injection of both water and funding in a new plan announced today.

The multi-billion dollar plan is designed to conserve the river system known as Australia’s “food bowl.”

Jacqueline Allen reports.


Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Water Minister Tony Burke made the announcement in Goolwa at the mouth of the Murray River.

$1.7 billion over the next 10 years will go towards improving farm infrastructure.

This should allow irrigation water to be used more efficiently and return a predicted 3,200 gigalitres to the basin.

Tony Burke, Federal Water Minister: “We don’t know when the next drought will be but we do know whenever that comes the river system will approach that drought with a level of resilience that it hasn’t had in more than a generation.”

However, the Federal Opposition remains sceptical of the plan.

Barnaby Joyce, Opposition Water Spokesman: “It is a statement about money they don’t have that had to be delivered by a person who’s not there and borrowed off someone we haven’t yet met.”

Special legislation needs to be passed in order to establish the Murray-Darling fund, money the government says has already been accounted for in the budget.

The Murray-Darling Basin plan is due to be finalised by the end of the year. But to make it work, the Federal Government needs the support of four States.

Currently, they only have one, South Australia, on board.

Jacqueline Allen, QUT News.