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Australian Government delivers $50 million to the Murray River.

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I am pleased to announce that the Australian Government has delivered an historic $500 million cash injection to the Murray-Darling Basin Commission to improve the health of the Murray River.

In this year's Budget, the Australian Government announced a new investment of $500 million to the Murray Darling Basin Commission to accelerate a range of capital works and improvements to restore the health of the River Murray, enhance environmental flows and benefit irrigators, industries and towns in the Murray-Darling Basin.

This funding was conditional on the Murray-Darling Basin states - NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and the ACT - agreeing to maintain their 2006-07 contribution to the Murray-Darling Basin Commission in real terms over the next four years. I am pleased that all Murray-Darling Basin states have now agreed to this.

This significant Australian Government investment will help improve our water infrastructure. It will allow the Murray-Darling Basin Commission to accelerate the full range of capital works across the Basin which it has identified as necessary to ensure the river system is operating at optimal efficiency.

The new $500 million injection will improve the Murray River's health by:

• accelerating capital works, including salt interception works and refurbishing weirs to reduce salinity and maintain water quality for Adelaide, regional communities and irrigators, • funding the renewal and maintenance of Murray River water delivery

infrastructure, which is currently being run down • investing in new infrastructure to maximise the environmental benefits of water recovered for Living Murray initiatives • completing the sea to Hume dam fishways by 2011 to allow native fish

populations to reconnect along the Murray River.

For the first time the Australian Government's funding will also enable the Murray-Darling Basin Commission to invest in the Living Murray’s water recovery measures.

This $500 million injection brings the Australian Government's total investment in the Murray-Darling river system to $2 billion since 1996.

30 June 2006