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Federalism: Canberra And South Australia Act On Murray River

The Federal and South Australian governments have announced a package of measures aimed at reducing salinity, improving water quality and protecting biodiversity in the Murray Darling region.

The measures, worth $12.1 million, were announced by the Liberal Party Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Labor Party Premier of South Australia, Mike Rann.

This is the text of a media release from the Prime Minister, John Howard.


Prime Minister John Howard and Premier Mike Rann today announced $12.1 million in Commonwealth and State funding to improve the economic and environmental future of the Murray River in South Australia.

These funds will be used to reduce salinity, improve water quality, and protect biodiversity in the Murray Darling region under the National Action Plan and National Heritage Trust.

A significant part of the package will combat salination of soil and water resources. The Bookpurnong salt interception scheme for example will result in a reduction of 133 tonnes of salt per day entering the River Murray. Other activities to be funded include establishing a seedbank with 50 kilograms of local native seed for revegetation projects in the region and the protection of the Coorong and Lower Lakes Ramsar-listed wetlands by fencing of habitats, revegetation and monitoring.

The Prime Minister said the commitment, from the $1.4 billion joint Commonwealth and States National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, and the $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust, was another indication of all governments’ commitment to ensuring South Australia received its share of good quality water from the Murray River.

Premier Rann welcomed the funding announcement. He said funding would be channelled through the community based Murray Darling Basin Integrated Natural Resource Management Group, the regional body developed to plan and implement Trust and National Action Plan funding along the river in South Australia.

Mr Howard said restoring the health of the Murray Darling Basin was one of the most important natural resource management challenges facing Australia, and success was crucial for the economic and environmental well-being of South Australia.

“The very strong reliance of South Australia on the Murray is well understood. There is no issue that unites South Australians more than the need for good quality and sufficient quantity of water supply to satisfy South Australia’s domestic and economic needs, and to restore the general health of the Murray River,” he said.

“With Australian government leadership, major efforts are now underway to restore the Murray through The Living Murray process, and the National Water Initiative.”

Under The Living Murray process Australian governments, particularly the governments of the Basin states (NSW, Victoria, SA) are committed to providing 500 gigalitres of environmental water to the Murray as a first step towards restoring it to the status of a healthy working river. Under the National Water Initiative, the Australian and State governments of the Basin have committed $500 million to address water over-allocation in the system.

Premier Rann said these were important early developments towards addressing the degradation of the Murray, and the threats that degradation posed to South Australia.

He said an important element of the projects was that they were based on decisions taken by South Australians, through structures set up by the State aimed at benefits for South Australia.

The Prime Minister congratulated the South Australian Murray-Darling Integrated Resource Management Group and the regional community for developing a visionary Plan for healthier landscapes and waterways in the region.

SA Murray Darling Basin Regional Investment 2003-2004
National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and Natural Heritage Trust Investment
Activity Total Funds Allocated ($)
Developing and Implementing Land and Water Management Plans 350,000
Mobilising community action through Land and Water Management Planning in the Tintinara Coonalpyn Area 40,000
Quantify impacts and options to address rising salinity on the built environment (Tintinara Coonalpyn area) 10,000
Policy framework for salinity management 200,000
Accounting for salinity 250,000
Preliminary investigations for the development of an environmental flows strategy for the Pike River & Murtho floodplains 120,000
Investigating and implementing flow management options for the Chowilla Anabranch System 100,000
Water quality audit and risk assessment 50,000
Accelerating stormwater and wastewater quality improvements in urban catchments 300,000
Improving management and allocation of water within prescribed water resources 180,000
Priority revegetation and remnant protection to reduce recharge, reduce soil loss and enhance biodiversity 150,000
Developing guidelines for grazing on the SA River Murray floodplain 40,000
Identifying sites of priority for conservation in the River Murray corridor 180,000
Development and implementation of integrated Natural Resource Management of the Riverland Ramsar site, including Chowilla 95,000
Roadside vegetation management in priority areas 25,000
Targeting Revegetation and Bush Management – On Ground Actions in the Murray Darling Basin 43,000
Bushcare Support in the Murray Darling Basin 140,000
Save the Swamps 125,000
Fish passage in River Murray anabranches 80,000
River Corridor multi-spp recovery planning 80,000
Integration of conservation management with pastoral production – Chowilla 15,000
Implementation of the Coorong and Lower Lakes Ramsar Management Plan – Communication, Ngarrindjeri Involvement, Monitoring and Review 80,000
Detailed mapping of the coastal, nearshore marine and estuarine habitats / detailed biological surveys of the nearshore marine environment 155,000
Local Government and Industry Support Strategy 100,000
Partnership in natural resource management 150,000
Establishing the roles and responsibilities of Local Government in the MDB 40,000
NRM Board & Program Administration 250,000
Design, construct and operate salt interception schemes for salinity mitigation 6,040,000
Rehabilitation of the Lower Murray Swamps 2,700,000
Total Package for SA Murray Darling Basin 12,088,000


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Malcolm Farnsworth
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