The Morrison government will pump $330 million into five NSW water recovery projects in the Murray-Darling Basin.
But Labor argues the coalition is playing catch up after years of policy failures in the river system.
Under the basin plan, 605 gigalitres of water is slated for recovery through projects that avoid the need for water to be bought back from irrigators for the environment.
But many of the supply and constraint measures are not on track to meet the plan’s 2024 deadline.
Water Minister Keith Pitt said the government wanted to work with NSW to ensure changes could be delivered by that time.
“This is about knuckling down to deliver the shared commitment by the Australian and NSW governments to achieve better environmental outcomes in the Murray-Darling Basin,” he said.
“The coalition government will continue to work collaboratively with other basin jurisdictions to achieve a healthy river system that supports thriving agriculture and communities.”
Labor’s water spokeswoman Terri Butler said policy failures were piling up under Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.
“Today’s announcements are not fast tracking, they are announcements from panicked governments that are well behind and scrambling to catch up,” she said.
“Any investment in delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is welcome. But today’s announcements fail to answer the ‘how, when and how much’ questions, that remain central to the plan’s success.”
NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey said the projects were chosen based on community feedback.
“Done right, these projects can contribute to keeping 605 gigalitres of water in productive use, benefit the environment, and deliver the healthy rivers we all rely on,” she said.
The five projects include Koondrook-Perricoota flow enabling works, a mid-Murray anabranches constraints demonstration, and sustainable diversion limits offset in two Lower Murray locks.
The Murrumbidgee and Murray National Park and modernising supply systems for effluent creeks projects round out the list.