Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment Simon Birmingham welcomed State and Territory Ministers to Canberra today to discuss management of the Murray Darling and water reform matters at the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council meeting.

The meeting was attended by Hon Peter Walsh MP (VIC), Hon Katrina Hodgkinson (NSW), Hon Andrew Cripps (QLD), Hon Ian Hunter (SA) and Mr Simon Corbell MLA (ACT).

Senator Birmingham said the meeting provided a good opportunity to emphasise the Abbott government’s commitment to the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, on time and in full.

“A major component of our Clean Water policy is to achieve the best productive outcomes from the government’s $12 billion investment in the Basin, while delivering the environmental water returns required to achieve sustainability,” Senator Birmingham said.

“It is clear from today’s discussions that our shared priority is to see real progress in the implementation of water reforms and related Basin Plan activities and programs.

“Achieving the intended policy outcomes relies on all levels of government, industries
and communities to work together to implement water reforms in a way that minimises local stresses and upholds the strong contribution regional communities continue to make to Australia’s economy.”

During the meeting, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) advised Ministers that early implementation milestones for the Basin Plan had been achieved, including the setting of the first ever annual Basin-wide environmental watering priorities. The meeting was also informed of strong progress between the states in developing and assessing projects as part of the sustainable adjustment mechanism incorporated within the Basin Plan.

In welcoming the outcomes of today's meeting, Senator Birmingham particularly acknowledged Council's commitment to strengthening governance arrangements for jointly-funded activities, and to consider finalisation of a 2014-15 budget for joint activities early in the new year.