By Tanya Plibersek

14 May 2024




The Albanese Labor Government is safeguarding Australia’s precious water resources for the communities, industries and environments that rely on them.
In the 2024-25 Budget, we are investing in crucial infrastructure projects to ensure that people have clean drinking water, farmers have water to grow our food and fibre, and we deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Delivering water security
All Australians, no matter where they live, have the right to safe, reliable water.
In Australia, more than 600,000 people living in regional and remote communities don’t have access to water that meets recognised standards.
That’s why we’re investing $140.4 million in construction projects, including for agriculture, town water supplies and water recycling. This includes $20.7 million for ten new water infrastructure construction projects in regional and remote First Nations communities. 
To make sure future construction projects stack up economically and environmentally, we’re investing $34.3 million in 22 business cases and scientific research projects. This will help us to make more informed investment decisions, and better understand our water resources and the technologies we use to manage them.
The Great Artesian Basin is the country’s largest groundwater system and it’s a lifeline for towns and farmers in central Australia during the dry times. Industries that rely on this precious water source contribute $33.2 billion per year to Australia’s economy. We are investing $32 million in this Basin to deliver vital on-ground water security projects, fix or replace hundreds of flowing or leaky bores, and install new pipes for up to 4,560 kilometres of open bore drains, securing about 104 gigalitres or 41,600 Olympic swimming pools of water.
Delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan
Basin communities were let down by the Coalition who blocked water recovery, tied up programs in impossible rules, and ignored expert advice. We’ve changed all that.
Since passing the Restoring our Rivers legislation last year to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full, we are now getting on with it.
This Budget will see more options and more funding added to our water recovery toolbox. An additional $27 million has been committed to expand the Resilient Rivers Water Infrastructure Program to allow more water savings projects to be developed.
There is also an extra $7.2 million for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to deliver the Constraints Relaxation Implementation Roadmap by the end of the year. We are helping Basin states to manage the flow of the rivers, including by building bridges, culverts, and other infrastructure, to minimise damage from low level flooding. Our investment will also help boost involvement of First Nations people in Basin water management.
Restoring trust in the water system
We’re building trust in the Murray-Darling Basin, making sure the water market has strong rules against insider trading and requirements for proper record keeping.
With an extra $28.6 million, the Inspector-General of Water Compliance will be better equipped to ensure people don’t take more water out of our rivers than they’re allowed to.
That’s on top of $5.7 million to ensure the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as the incoming Basin water market conduct regulator, is resourced to carry out its new water market integrity functions. This includes enforcing compliance with insider trading and market manipulation rules.
The Albanese Government continues to invest in, protect and restore the country’s water resources – which is good for the environment, communities, businesses, and all Australians.
TUESDAY, 14 MAY 2024