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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    JOINT STATEMENT
    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh
    Minister for Natural Resources and Water and Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland
    The Honourable Craig Wallace

    STATE GIFTS 10.6 BILLION LITRES TO THE MURRAY DARLING

    JOINT STATEMENT

    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Minister for Natural Resources and Water and Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland
    The Honourable Craig Wallace

    Friday, September 12, 2008

    STATE GIFTS 10.6 BILLION LITRES TO THE MURRAY DARLING

    The Queensland Government has today announced it will gift the Commonwealth Government with 10.6 billion litres of water from the Queensland-Murray Darling catchment.

    “Queensland has risen to the challenge and I am today announcing this allocation of water which will be made available to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder,’’ Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said.

    “The water will come from across the Queensland section of the Murray Darling basin and includes allocations from the Nebine, Moonie, Warrego and Border Rivers.

    “To achieve this historic measure, I have instructed the Department of Natural Resources and Water (NRW) to ensure existing unallocated reserves of water are made available.

    “That water will be gifted to the Commonwealth to improve the health of the Murray Darling system.’’

    “Last year, we put a halt to a planned water auction in the Warrego system. These additional 8 billion litres which was to be auctioned will be included in the gift to the Commonwealth,” she said.

    Water Minister Craig Wallace said the other volumes will come from 1.1 billion litres of unallocated water from the Moonie River, 1 billion in the Nebine River and 500 million litres in the Border Rivers.

    “Queensland is serious in its efforts to help the Commonwealth save the Murray Darling and today’s announcement is further proof of that commitment.’’

    Mr Wallace said Queensland would move to put in place administrative arrangements so the reserved water can be permanently gifted to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.

    “The community can appreciate that this is a significant announcement from Queensland to the Commonwealth,’’ he said.

    Despite the fact that our Queensland water resource planning already provides for the environment and the recent Murray Darling Basin Commission Sustainable River Audit, clearly shows the health of the Queensland rivers are the best in the basin, this State recognises its responsibilities to the whole basin.

    “People need to understand that all of the river systems in the State’s south west are ephemeral, so the flows can only be taken when the rivers actually run.

    “The fact is the lion’s share of water taken from the Murray-Darling Basin every year is taken by New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
    “Queensland, on average, takes less than 5 per cent of the total water extracted from the basin.

    “Queensland water laws give priority to environmental flows ahead of water extractions.
    “In the past seven years, landholders in the Queensland section of the basin have been unable to take anything near their legal water entitlements because of the drought.

    “In 2006-07, total extractions within the Queensland leg of the basin was just 27.4% of our average take. The 2007-08 summer rains produced the first decent flows in years.
    “As such, landholders could take some of the water they were legally entitled to take, yet we were criticised heavily for allowing that to happen.

    “Today, I have put on the table our commitment to making unallocated water available to the system and I look forward to seeing how the other States react to this announcement,’’ he said.

    Media contact: Minister’s Office: 3896 3694.