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Published: 03 May 2018   •   Media release

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has today released further analysis of the socio-economic impacts of the Basin Plan on communities in the Southern Basin, as part of its Basin Plan Evaluation.

MDBA Executive Director, Colin Mues, said the analysis showed irrigated agriculture in many communities across the Basin has experienced large changes, and that in some communities the Basin Plan has been a major factor.

"It was always known that change of the magnitude required to save the Basin system would have some unavoidable socio-economic impacts. That is why unprecedented funding of $13 billion was allocated to its implementation—with $8 billion earmarked specifically for infrastructure programs to recover water with minimal socio-economic harm to communities," Mr Mues said.

"Even though our analysis shows that water recovery has sometimes had a large impact on irrigated activity, the impacts would have been even larger had it not been for the Australian Government's infrastructure investments.

"In other words, the method of water recovery is as significant as how much is recovered.

"But at the end of the day, this analysis highlights one source of socio-economic pressure in Basin communities—and regardless of the cause of that hardship, we have an obligation not to add any further unnecessary socio-economic impacts.

"In fact, the Basin Plan mandates that we achieve the best possible balance of environmental, social and economic outcomes—pursuit of any one of these should not come at the unreasonable expense of another.

"The Basin Plan is designed to be flexible because it is about recovering the right amount of water, to achieve the best possible balance of environmental, social and economic outcomes.

"That is why the amendment currently before the Parliament is so important.

"By undertaking projects that will improve how environmental water is used and delivered, we will be getting a better balance of environmental, social and economic outcomes.

"Through the projects developed by the state governments, we will actually improve our ability to meet the Plan's environmental outcomes, while avoiding any further unnecessary social and economic harm to communities.

"This is exactly how the Basin Plan is intended to work, and I urge all parties to stay the course."

The MDBA's analysis of socio-economic impacts of the Basin Plan across 40 communities in the Southern Basin is available at


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