The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

8 December 2008

NO.138

Joint Media Release
with
Senator The Hon Penny Wong
Minister for Climate Change and Water

$1 Billion to Help Secure Urban Water

Treasurer Wayne Swan and Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, today released the guidelines that will govern the Rudd Government's $1 billion National Urban Water and Desalination Plan announced in this year's Budget.

Under this Plan the Australian Government will fund large-scale infrastructure projects to help cities and towns meet future demand for water.

Funds available under the Plan will support the building of desalination plants and recycling and stormwater harvesting infrastructure in urban areas with populations of more than 50,000 people.

The release of these guidelines follows passage last week of landmark reforms through the Federal Parliament to help secure the future of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Senator Wong said the Government is working to secure water supplies for all Australians with its long-term $12.9 billion plan, Water for the Future.

"While we are focused on reducing the carbon pollution that is causing climate change, we are also preparing for the climate change we can't avoid," Senator Wong said.

"Climate change means a future with less rain in much of Australia's population centres.

"The situation in the Murray-Darling Basin - where there have been 38 consecutive months of record low inflows - makes clear that we have to secure new water supplies that rely less on rain.

"Whereas the previous Government thought city water supplies was a problem for the States, the Rudd Government is stepping up to the plate to provide assistance for State Governments that are diversifying their water supplies."

Private organisations, water utilities, and state, territory and local governments are invited to apply for funding. Successful organisations will receive either 10 per cent of the total cost of the project or $100 million, depending on which is the lesser amount.

Access to funding is conditional on state and territory governments achieving water reforms agreed through the Council of Australian Governments.

The plan is a key component of Water for the Future - the Government's 10-year $12.9 billion plan to secure the long-term water supply of all Australians.

There will be a one-month consultation period on the draft legislation and explanatory information to support the National Urban Water and Desalination Plan.

Private organisations implementing projects under the plan will receive funding through tax offsets. Implementing this requires some changes to the tax laws.

The draft legislation is to: give effect to the tax offset arrangements for the plan; detail the operation of the certificate which entitles the recipient to the tax offset; and enact a number of consequential amendments to the income tax law.

Interested parties are invited to make submissions on the draft legislation and associated explanatory materials.

Senator Wong said these funds for larger cities were complemented by the $250 million National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns which targets areas with less than 50,000 people by funding practical projects such as pipelines, water saving infrastructure and water treatment plants.

Proposals for funding from the National Urban Water and Desalination Plan must be received by 30 June 2009. Guidelines will be available from www.environment.gov.au/water from tomorrow.

More information on the draft tax legislation will be available from www.treasury.gov.au or by emailing watertaxoffset@treasury.gov.au

CANBERRA
8 December 2008