Small Murray River irrigators will receive exit grants while others will be paid to remove plantings under a $57 million Government assistance package announced today.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said this would provide exit grants of $150,000 plus other grants of up to $10,000 for the removal of permanent plantings and for retraining of block owners.

Mr Rudd said this would free up 48 gigalitres of water for the Murray if all grants are taken up.

He said this was a practical action designed to achieve two things.

“One, enable people who are small block irrigators to remain in their communities, while at the same time helping them get out of the business of irrigation,” he told the ABC.

“Secondly, as a result, providing greater environmental flows for the Murray and to help the lower lakes.”

South Australian Premier Mike Rann welcomed the plan.

“This really allows people to stay on their properties and stay in their communities and at the same time giving them substantial financial incentives, but also of course, allowing more water to come down the River Murray,” he said.