Getting straight to work to restore the Murray-Darling Rivers

Dept of Climate Change, Energy, Environment & Water

The Albanese Labor Government is wasting no time delivering on its commitment to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full, following the passage of the Restoring our Rivers Act in December.

The Government has today launched the first of three new programs to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full.

Under the Resilient Rivers Program, participating state governments can now bring forward proposals for new water saving infrastructure projects like irrigation network upgrades to further improve water efficiency and management, reduce water loss, and return water to the environment.

This is an important moment for Basin communities, and for all Australians who rely on the Basin for water, food and the habitat it provides for iconic native species.

The program forms part of a new draft blueprint on how the Government will deliver the 450GL.

The draft blueprint outlines our plans for the voluntary water purchase and community support programs which we are now seeking feedback on. It also details the three key principles that will guide the delivery of the Plan: enhancing environmental outcomes, minimising socio-economic impacts and achieving value for money.

Consultation opens today. Communities, industries, farmers, First Nations and environmental groups are encouraged to have their say on draft principles and program guidelines for the Voluntary Water Purchase Program and Sustainable Communities Program by heading to: Consultation hub | Climate (

Labor wants to make sure we have a healthy and sustainable river system for the communities, industry, First Nations groups and environment that rely on it.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP:

“After a decade of neglect and sabotage by the Liberals and Nationals, the Basin Plan was completely off-track. The previous government let communities down, let industry down, and have failed to protect the environment.

“We’re determined to get this done. And now that the Restoring Our Rivers Act has commenced, we’re not wasting any time.

“We’ve put more time, more funding, more options and more accountability on the table. And we are starting straight away by giving participating governments the opportunity to bring forward new water saving projects. The reality is the more of these projects we fund, the less water we will need to purchase.

“For too long, Basin communities have been let down. Labor is getting on with the job to deliver the Plan in full.”

Background information

The Australian Government will deliver the 450 GL through three programs. The programs are:

  1. Resilient Rivers Program – infrastructure projects, rules changes, land and water partnerships and other way to recover water
  2. Voluntary Water Purchase Program – purchase of water entitlements from willing sellers by the Commonwealth
  3. Sustainable Communities Program – community adjustment assistance for Basin communities impacted by voluntary water purchase.

Today’s draft framework follows 12 months of constructive work between Basin governments and builds on the cornerstone August 2023 Agreement between Basin Ministers.

The Australian Government has provided an enabling framework to the agreement through the commencement of the Restoring Our Rivers Act 2023 in December 2023 which made changes to the Water Act 2007 and Basin Plan 2012.

The framework approach has also been informed by consultation seeking all ideas to deliver the Basin Plan, listening to issues raised in the recent Senate inquiry into the provisions of the Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023 and through recent discussions with local governments and peak organisations.

/Public Release. View in full here.