The $13 billion Murray-Darling Basin Plan aimed to return 450 gigalitres of water by June 2024.
A key deadline for returning water to the Murray-Darling Basin will be pushed back after the Albanese government brokered a deal with the Greens.
The $13 billion Murray-Darling Basin Plan aimed to return 450 gigalitres of water to the environment by June 2024.
The government has put forward legislation to move that to the end of 2027.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek announced on Monday in a joint press conference with Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young amendments in exchange for crucial support needed for the bill to pass.
The proposed laws will be introduced to the Senate this week, after previous negotiations with the Greens had stalled.
The changes will put into place a new agreement with all basin states, except Victoria, after it was revealed water recovery targets would not be met.
The bill will now guarantee that the 450 gigalitres will be recovered by 2027.
“Not delivering this is simply not an option. We want to make sure we have a healthy and sustainable river system for the communities, industry, First Nations groups and environment that rely on it,” Ms Plibersek said.
Without the support of the Greens, an end of year deadline would be missed, and the government would be forced to start water buybacks for about 300 gigalitres of water next year.
Large water recovery projects under way wouldn’t be completed, as they would be withdrawn.
“The Greens have secured a guarantee in law that the environment will finally receive the 450GL of water needed to protect our precious river system,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
“This breakthrough agreement will deliver more water for rivers across the entire basin, north and south.”
The deal includes an independent audit of water in the basin and $100 million for First Nations water and the Aboriginal water entitlements program.