Media Releases | 15th May, 2006

Government double standard threatens Murray’s future

Monday, 15 May 2006

The Victorian Government must commit to buying water to revive the Murray in the wake of a leaked CSIRO report showing the river needs five times more water than promised just to maintain its current inadequate health.

Environment Victoria and the Australian Conservation Foundation have criticised the Victorian Government for its double standards in refusing to buy water for the Murray while buying water for urban supplies.

Environment Victoria Healthy Rivers Campaign Director Dr Paul Sinclair said not one drop of the 500 gigalitres promised to the Murray River in 2003 has been returned to the river.

“The Murray is dying and desperately needs governments to stop stalling and start acting in the national interest . It’s time the Victorian Government bought much-needed water for the river and committed to a long-term plan to restore the once-mighty Murray.”

Australian Conservation Foundation Healthy Rivers Campaigner Dr Arlene Buchan said current plans to return water to the Murray were clearly inadequate.

“It’s time for the Federal and State Governments to stop tinkering around the edges,” Dr Buchan said.

“It’s not good enough to simply slow the pace of decline. We need a large re-allocation of water from irrigation to the environment to bring the Murray back to life.”

The South Australian Government announced on Friday that a significant portion of their obligations under the Living Murray scheme would be met by buying water from willing sellers.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Government refuses to buy water for the Murray despite buying water from irrigators for urban use. In recent developments:

  • Bendigo City Council has made a commitment to buy water from irrigators for urban water supply. The City of Bendigo will spend $250 000 a year buying 250 megalites of water.
  • Coliban Water Authority has bought over 900 megalites for urban water supply.
  • The Government’s plan for securing water for Melbourne includes voluntary buybacks of water.

“If it’s good enough to buy water for Bendigo then it’s good enough to buy it for the Murray,” Dr Sinclair said. “The Victorian Government needs to make a long-term commitment to return at least another 1500 gigalitres to the Murray with enforceable targets to make sure the promises are kept.’’