The Murray-Darling Basin Plan has been extended in a deal between the federal government and the states, excluding Victoria. The states have until the end of 2026 to deliver their 605GL of water-saving infrastructure projects and the end of 2027 to recover 450GL of environmental water. The agreement also provides more funding to deliver projects and more options to recover environmental water, including buybacks as well as federal compensation to rural communities affected by flow-on impacts of water buybacks. The agreement removes a 1,500 gigalitre cap on buybacks which previously restricted federal government water purchases.
Federal water minister Tanya Plibersek said reaching the agreement was not easy but that there are significant benefits to agreements and that the door will remain open to Victoria to join. Previously, Victoria’s water minister Harriet Shing said her government would not support water buybacks. If Victoria does not sign the agreement, the state will remain bound to the MDBP’s original 2024 deadline, triggering buybacks to recover the shortfall from incomplete water saving projects.