News | 7th Apr, 2011

Health of river top priority

Survey finds support for Murray

Thursday, 7 April 2011
Anthony Bunn, Border Mail

An opinion poll commissioned by environmental groups has found overwhelming support for improving the health of the Murray River.

The survey, which was sought by Environment Victoria and the Australian Conservation Foundation, resulted in 77.7 per cent of Victorians saying they "think a national plan to improve the Murray is needed soon before the next drought hits".

The same questionnaire found 74 per cent believe "the amount of water allocated to the Murray-Darling river system should be increased to a level that protects its health".

It also found 73.4 per cent believed "protecting the health of the river will provide a more secure future for all people who live and work in the Murray-Darling Basin".

Environment Victoria healthy rivers campaigner Amelia Young said she thought the level of support for the
questions may have been less, based on publicity given to irrigators who burned copies of the Murray-Darling basin plan in protest at its economic impact.

"We're encouraged by it, we're very pleased to see such a huge level of support in Melbourne and regional Victoria for resuscitating the Murray River," Ms Young said.

"We actually thought there would be broad community support but it was a bit higher than we expected, we anticipated the negativity surrounding the Murray-Darling basin report, particularly from the irrigators at
Griffith would impact on the result."

The chairman of the Southern Riverina Irrigators, Ted Hatty, said it was not surprising there was strong support for a healthy river.

He said the answers to any survey "depend onthe question you ask".

"Even those irrigators upset at Griffith and Deniliquin they all want a healthy river system and a healthy environment," Mr Hatty said.

Mr Hatty said if the question was asked "do you support a healthy river balanced with a good socio-economic outcome?" then you would expect a 70 per cent postive response.

"I think everybody wants a Murray that is a good working river, but I keep coming back to the point that a lot of that is subjective that's why we need to get the balance right and the science right," he said.

Ms Young said the results would be used to lobby the Federal Water Minister Tony Burke and the head of the Murray- Darling Basin Authority Craig Knowles.


More resources

View our media release announcing the results

Read a full summary of the Newspoll results here

Read more about our Save the Murray campaign