DEPUTY Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce announced the Coalition Government will provide $8 million for water infrastructure upgrades across the Great Artesian Basin for two years while visiting the Roma Show on Friday.
Mr Joyce said the funding would allow important water infrastructure improvements across the Basin to continue after round four of the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI) ceases on 30 June 2017.
“As drought continues across multiple regions, this new $8 million Great Artesian Basin Infrastructure Investment Program will deliver improvements in supported water and land management,” he said.
“To date, the Coalition has provided more than $115 million to state and territory governments to help protect the future of this vital water resource by capping free flowing bores and replacing inefficient open bore drains with modern piped reticulation systems as part of the GABSI programme.
“The Great Artesian Basin is essentially a huge underground water storage underlying 22 per cent of Australia from Cape York to Dubbo, housing approximately 65 million megalitres of fresh water.
“It’s estimated that water from the Basin underpins at least $12.8 billion in economic activity annually, so securing a sustainable future for the Basin with more efficient water infrastructure is essential.
“Water infrastructure upgrades deliver significant benefits for industries and support regional development and economic growth across Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.”
Maranoa MP, David Littleproud, said the Great Artesian Basin is of vital economic and environmental importance to his electorate.
“The Great Artesian Basin directly supports more than 180,000 people in more than 120 towns and 7600 businesses in regional and remote Australia, many of which are located in Maranoa,” he said.
“Uncontrolled bores continue to threaten secure access to water across for not only communities, pastoralists, irrigators and mining industries but also the health of important ecosystems dependent on groundwater.”
Minister Joyce said that going forward there would be a new funding model developed to encourage greater private investment in water infrastructure in the Basin, which has received strong support from Basin Governments and key industry stakeholders.
For more information on the Interim GAB Infrastructure Investment Program visit www.agriculture.gov.au/interim-gabiip