Environment Victoria today welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s commitment to buy back sufficient water to restore the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin to health, saying the promise offers hope for the iconic river red gum forests and wetlands of northern Victoria.
“This promise should provide more water for rivers like the Goulburn, Campaspe and Loddon in northern Victoria, and deliver adequate water to the newly created River Red Gum National Parks,” said Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham.
“Rivers and red gum forests across northern Victoria are desperate for a drink and hopefully the implementation of a strong Basin Plan will mean they will get one,” said Environment Victoria Healthy Rivers Campaigner Juliet Le Feuvre.
The Basin Plan, which will be released after the federal election, will propose limits on water extraction that should be sustainable in the long term and will protect the future of both river systems and the communities that depend on them.
“Rivers and wetlands in northern Victoria have been pushed to the brink of collapse by the combined effects of climate change and over-extraction of water,” said Mr Wakeham.
“The Victorian government has taken the lead in protecting river red gum forests and wetlands by creating new national and regional parks, but the job of protecting them will not be finished until the state and federal governments work together to provide the forests with a secure and reliable water supply,” he said. “These forests need a drink as soon as possible.”
“Environment Victoria calls on all political parties at both state and federal level to follow Ms Gillard’s lead and commit to implementing a robust Basin Plan, based on best available science, to address the long-term unsustainable water use across the Basin and restore northern Victoria’s rivers, forests and wetlands to health,” said Ms Le Feuvre.
“Prime Minister Gillard’s commitment to fully implement the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is the first major environmental announcement of what has so far been a very disappointing election campaign for the environment,” said Mr Wakeham.
However Environment Victoria also warned that Australia needs a credible plan to limit climate change as part of its commitment to restoring the Murray Darling Basin.
“In the long term these river systems will collapse without a plan to reduce greenhouse pollution and limit climate change. So far neither the ALP nor the Coalition have delivered a plan that will see Australia’s emissions fall in the next term of government,” he concluded.
Mark Wakeham, 0439 700 501, Juliet LeFeuvre, 0428 770 019
Louise Matthiesson 0417 017 844