The Australian government will allocate half a billion dollars in funding to the development of the nation’s water infrastructure as part of an overall strategy to boost the competitiveness of the agricultural sector.

The National Water Infrastructure Development Fund has been established to expand Australia’s water infrastructure network in cooperation with the state and territory governments.

$50 million will be allocated to further planning and decision-making with respect to viable investment projects, while a further $450 million will be employed for the funding of construction work.

Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said the development of water infrastructure is a central part of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, adding that it builds upon projects currently being undertaken in the Murray-Darling Basin, the Great Artesian Basin, and Tasmania.

“Water is the most basic input for life – this funding will help supply water for communities, agriculture and industry,” he said. “It’s a critically importance resource for our farmers, who have their work cut out for them feeding the nation, as well as 40 million people beyond our shores, while working the driest inhabited continent on earth.”

According to Joyce, the fund will be used to significantly expand water infrastructure throughout the country in those areas where projects are most needed.

“There is a long and growing list of suggested sites and projects that could benefit from funding right across the country, from managed aquifer recharge in the Northern Territory to Gippsland’s Macalister Irrigation District Southern Pipeline in Victoria,” he said. “There are many great opportunities in the Nathan and Emu Swamp dams, Rookwood and Eden Bann weirs in Queensland, Dungowan Dam in New South Wales and Ord Stage 3 in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.”

The government’s water infrastructure commitments places a heavy emphasis upon development in the Australian tropics, with the Northern Territory alone set to receive as much as $200 million of the total $500 million in funding.