Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Questions without Notice
776 gigalitres from the entire system in terms of water entitlements. Over the period I have just been referring to and for some decades before that, as the Murray-Darling became progressively constrained because of the declining inflow of water, the issuing of entitlements by various state governments trebled in number. So on the one hand we had a massive trebling in the entitlements of farmers to take water out of the system; at the same time on the other hand the supply of water was affected by the decrease in rainfall. Of course, climate change is relevant to all of those considerations as well.
The other thing, as the honourable member will be aware, is that we are seeking to improve the efficiency of the irrigation infrastructure being used in the Murray-Darling. That is why the government are investing, from memory, in excess of $3 billion with the irrigators across the system, in order to improve the efficiency of irrigators. The last advice I had was that the irrigation system in the Murray-Darling was in many places so antiquated that it was resulting in something like a 30 per cent water loss.