Basin Plan commitments package

​The Australian Government is working with the Basin states to deliver a $3.3 billion package of initiatives as part of its investment of more than $13 billion to implement the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.

On 7 May 2018 the Australian Government confirmed its ongoing commitment to the Murray–Darling Basin Plan and agreed to a package of initiatives to support Basin Plan implementation. This will ensure delivery of the outcomes of the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism and the 2016 Northern Basin Review.

Learn how the package will affect you.

Focus of commitments

The package of commitments (initiatives) is organised under 5 streams. Click on each stream below to open the summary and learn more about the individual commitments, or read the complete document on the commitments package here.

[expand all]

1 Strengthening protection of environmental flows

Two commitments have been made under this stream:

1a The Australian Government will work with the NSW Government to establish mechanisms to protect environmental flows.

This commitment is being progressed through a range of activities. As at 30 November 2018, these include the Basin Compliance Compact that was signed by Basin ministers on 8 June 2018, legislation reinstated into law on 3 July 2018 to implement the outcomes of the Northern Basin Review, state based water resource plans, and environmental works and measures to be rolled out over the next few years. The New South Wales and Queensland governments are developing improved rules for the protection of environmental flows for inclusion in their respective water resource plans.

1b The Australian Government will establish the position of Northern Basin Commissioner.

This commitment is completed. Mr Mick Keelty, AO APM, was appointed the Northern Basin Commissioner on 23 August 2018 for a three year term. He commenced in the role on 11 September 2018.

The Northern Basin Commissioner will focus on overseeing implementation of the Northern Basin Review recommendations.

Click on the following links to learn more about...

  • Strengthening compliance and protecting environmental flows ​– the Australian Government is committed to improving compliance and protecting environmental flows through initiatives such as hydrometric networks and monitoring technologies.
  • Basin Compliance Compact – the compact is an agreed work plan for governments to ensure water rules are complied with and enforced.
  • Northern Basin Review report – the report covers the fundamentals of the Northern Basin Review, the proposed recommendations and amendments, and how the decision was reached.
  • New South Wales Water Resource Plans ​– information on New South Wales water resource plans, the planning process, water recovery accounting factors (also known as CAP factors), and how the NSW government consults with stakeholders and the community to develop water resource plans.
  • Queensland Murray-Darling Basin – information on Queensland water resource plans, water management in the Basin, rural water management program, management of environmental water, and support for agricultural businesses and communities.
  • Northern Basin Commissioner​ – more about the Northern Basin Commissioner and the role of the Commissioner.

2 Strengthening compliance with Basin water laws

Five commitments have been made under this stream:

2a The Australian Government will implement key outcomes of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority’s Review of compliance and enforcement.

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) released its Compliance and Enforcement Policy 2018-21 on 26 June 2018 and implementation has commenced.

2b The NSW Government will implement its Water Reform Action Plan.

The New South Wales Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) legislation was passed on 30 November 2017 and the Regulator commenced on 7 May 2018.

As at 30 November 2018, 26 actions from the Water Reform Action Plan have been completed.

2c The Murray–Darling Basin Authority and the Basin states will develop and deliver the Basin Compliance Compact.

On 8 June 2018, the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council approved the Basin Compliance Compact, which will be provided to the Council of Australian Governments for endorsement at its next meeting.

2d The newly appointed Northern Basin Commissioner will monitor and advise on implementation of compliance commitments.

These are part of the Northern Basin Commissioner’s functions. The Commissioner will oversee the implementation of the Northern Basin Review.

2e The Australian Government will provide $20 million to improve hydrometric networks in the northern Basin and develop remote sensing and other technologies to enhance monitoring, measurement and compliance in all Basin jurisdictions.

A new Hydrometric Networks and Remote Sensing Funding Program (the Program) is being administered by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

On 27 November 2018, Murray‑Darling Basin state and territory governments and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority were invited by the Department to submit proposals for funding under this Program.

Click on the following links to learn more about...

3 Improving outcomes for Indigenous people, and addressing social and economic impacts of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan

Ten commitments have been made under this stream:

3a The Australian Government will fund two full-time staff positions for 3 years to support the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations and the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations.

As at 30 November 2018, funding agreements are in place and funding has been provided to support the two full-time staff positions for three years.

3b The Australian Government will enable the Indigenous Land Corporation to use its funds to access water entitlements as well as land.

This commitment is being progressed through legislation, which passed both Houses of Parliament on 28 November 2018, and through planning to support implementation.

3ci The Australian Government will provide $40 million over 4 years to support investment by Basin Indigenous communities in cultural and economic water entitlement activities.

As at 30 November 2018, this commitment is being progressed through project design work. The commitment includes $20 million each, over 4 years, for the northern and southern basins.

3cii The Australian Government will provide $20 million over 4 years for economic development projects for Indigenous, remote, rural and regional communities most affected by the Basin Plan.

As at 30 November 2018, this commitment is being progressed through project design work.

Economic development projects are expected to commence in the first quarter of 2019.

3d The Australian Government will fund local engagement facilitators to help identify development opportunities and funding options for the communities of Collarenebri (NSW), Dirranbandi (Qld), St George (Qld) and Warren (NSW).

As at 30 November 2018, the Queensland facilitator is covered off by existing arrangements, and arrangements for the New South Wales facilitators are being finalised between the Australian and New South Wales governments.

3e The Australian Government will work with the NSW and Queensland governments to identify northern Basin water entitlements to be allocated to Indigenous communities through state water resource plans.

The Australian Government has a facilitation role in respect of this commitment and, as at 30 November 2018, is working with the New South Wales and Queensland governments to progress it through state water resource plans.

3f The Australian Government will prioritise Indigenous and local suppliers to deliver environmental works under agreed toolkit measures in the northern Basin.

This commitment will be reflected in the arrangements that are being established by the Australian, New South Wales and Queensland governments for the implementation of environmental works and measures in the northern Basin.

3g The Australian Government will support works for cultural gatherings and low impact water recreation, including options to refurbish weirs at Cunnamulla and Wilcannia.

On 12 November 2018 the Australian and New South Wales governments announced joint funding of $150,000 for further work to determine the best option for refurbishing or replacing Wilcannia Weir. The governments also announced a commitment to provide up to $30 million to implement the final agreed option. The preferred location and design of Wilcannia Weir is expected to be confirmed by mid next year with construction anticipated to commence by the end of 2019.

Options for infrastructure works at Cunnamulla are being progressed with the Queensland government and through consultations with the local community.

3h The Murray–Darling Basin Authority will report on the management of environmental water and Indigenous cultural use of water.

A legislative instrument directing the Murray–Darling Basin Authority to report on the management of environmental water and Indigenous cultural use of water took effect on 1 July 2018. The first report, linked to state water resource plans, is due on 31 December 2019.

3i The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder will engage with Indigenous communities on the use of environmental water to meet Indigenous cultural values.

As at 30 November 2018, this commitment is being progressed through detailed project design work.

Click on the following links to learn more about...

4 Improving confidence in Northern Basin Review data

Two commitments have been made under this stream:

4a The Australian Government will support public release of Northern Basin Review modelling.

This commitment is completed. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority publicly released the Northern Basin Review modelling on its website on 16 August 2018.

4b The newly appointed Northern Basin Commissioner will provide the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council with information that will improve our understanding of the northern Basin.

The newly appointed Northern Basin Commissioner, Mr Keelty, is scheduled to begin regular briefing of the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council in December 2018.

Click on the following links to learn more about...

5 Strengthening the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism

The package includes initiatives to help implement the supply, constraint and efficiency measures of the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism.

Seven commitments have been made under this stream:

5a The Australian Government will announce an expression of interest for efficiency projects to begin recovery of 450GL of water.

This commitment is completed. The initial announcement was made on 13 July 2018. Implementation of this commitment is ongoing.

5b The NSW Government will talk to stakeholders about commencing water recovery towards the additional 450GL through water efficiency projects.

This commitment is being led by the New South Wales government.

5c The Australian Government will link payments under the National Partnership for the delivery of sustainable diversion limit supply measures to states who are able to demonstrate their full cooperation with the delivery of efficiency measures as defined under the Basin Plan.

As at 30 November 2018, this commitment is being progressed through discussions with Basin states on the terms of the proposed National Partnership.

5d The Australian Government will support the establishment and refurbishment of weirs, including construction of fishways at Menindee Lakes main weir and Frenchmans Creek, near Lake Victoria, NSW.

As at 30 November 2018, the Australian Government is working with southern Basin states to progress their supply measure projects, some of which propose to construct or refurbish weirs and fishways, including at Menindee Lakes main weir and Frenchmens Creek.

5e The Australian Government will commission independent reviews of the Water for the Environment Special Account in 2019 and 2021.

As at 30 November 2018, this commitment is being progressed through detailed project planning, with the first review to be completed by 30 September 2019.

5f The Murray–Darling Basin Authority will deliver annual technical workshops on the package of measures included in the SDL Adjustment Mechanism.

This commitment is completed. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority delivered the first annual technical workshop on 28 June 2018.

5g Through the Council of Australian Governments Plan, the Basin states will develop a constraints measures work plan.

As at 30 November 2018, this commitment is being progressed with the southern Basin states.

Click on the following links to learn more about...

Who this affects and how

The package of initiatives, agreed with the federal opposition in May 2018, enables the implementation of the Basin Plan in full and helps to protect the Basin for current and future generations.​

Basin governments will collaborate with stakeholders to implement the initiatives. For example, we will talk to Indigenous communities in the Basin about the best way to support their access to water resources.

Other initiatives will improve transparency and compliance, including how water is used, recovered and protected. The success of these measures relies on the collective support of all water users across the Basin.

Delivery

Delivery of the package will involve collaboration between agencies, including:

  • Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Murray–Darling Basin Authority
  • Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder
  • Basin state governments
​​