More than half a billion dollars is set to be injected into the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund to bolster the delivery of transformational water projects for regional communities.
The funding injection has seen the fund grow to more than $1billion, with the $580 million to be used to work with state and territory governments to identify and co-fund the construction of new water infrastructure projects across regional Australia, including in the Goulburn Valley.
‘‘The Murray electorate is renowned for its food production, and we must have access to reliable water for our producers and processors,’’ Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum said.
‘‘This historic injection of funds will be a game-changer for many of our communities.
‘‘Local projects, such as the Mitiamo Pipeline, could benefit from this new funding, with the possibility of future projects also accessing the fund.’’
The pipeline received $10million in funding in the Victorian budget, but was not given funding in the Federal Government’s May 8 budget.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the government ‘‘want to build more dams’’.
‘‘If we want to create jobs and grow regional Australia then we need to add water,’’ Mr McCormack said.
‘‘Access to secure and affordable water is critical to the lives of many Australians in regional areas and investment in water infrastructure is vital to keep Australia thriving, especially during tough times of extended drought.
‘‘This is not just about storing water in times when it is dry, it is also about protecting communities through flood mitigation in times when it is incredibly wet.’’
The announcement has been welcomed by the National Irrigators Council, with chief executive officer Steve Whan saying it was good to see some ‘‘sensible’’ investment.
‘‘Australia would have empty shelves in our fresh fruit and veg markets and we’d be drinking imported milk and wine if it wasn’t for irrigation — and it is good that the government recognises that expanding sustainable irrigation is a positive for the nation,’’ Mr Whan said.
‘‘The discussion about irrigation in eastern Australia particularly sometimes seems to forget that irrigation is about more than the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.’’