Media Releases | 18th Dec, 2017

Community representatives call on Water Ministers to deliver full Murray-Darling Basin Plan

Representatives of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Australian Floodplain Association, Environment Victoria and Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations have been invited to meet with members the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council this evening in Albury, ahead of the Council’s official meeting on Tuesday.

The representatives of farmers, conservationists and Aboriginal people will tell state and federal Water Ministers that a successful Basin Plan rests on four key areas of reform:

  • Building community trust and improving transparency by setting up a national judicial inquiry into water theft, compliance, transparency, equity and sufficiency of rules to protect environmental water, and establishing an independent institution to conduct auditing and compliance with the Basin Plan;
  • Giving the river what it needs by guaranteeing recovery of the full 3200GL, including the 450GL of upwater, through a combination of strategic water purchases and genuine water efficiency savings, and by enshrining rules in Water Resource Plans that protect environmental water;
  • Supporting Traditional Owner access and participation by appointing at least one Basin Traditional Owner to the MDBA Board and establishing pathways for Traditional Owner access to water resources.
  • Helping communities prepare for a future with less water by committing to a regional development program/transition plan to help affected communities adapt to changed water availability; and incorporating long-term changes in climate and water availability into the Basin Plan, supported by a climate change adaptation plan.

“The 450 GL of upwater is an essential part of the Basin Plan, not an optional extra” said Juliet Le Feuvre, Healthy Rivers Campaigner for Environment Victoria. “Making irrigation more efficient has been shown to deliver economic benefits. Ministers must set aside their differences and knuckle down to develop a plan to deliver the full 450GL, manage constraints and keep the whole river healthy.”

“This year we have seen repeated allegations of water theft and other problems that show powerful vested interests have been undercutting the effort to restore our rivers, wetlands and wildlife,” ACF Acting Campaign Manager, James Trezise said. “Water compliance is not the responsibility of just one downstream state. We need a strong national enforcement agency and a guarantee the Basin Plan will deliver its full complement of water for our rivers and communities.”

“Healthy waterways support vibrant Aboriginal cultures and strong communities. Ministers must commit to strong water recovery targets and give First Nations a real voice in decision-making. Undermining the Basin Plan undermines our culture, identity and connection to Country,” said Mr Rene Woods, Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations Chairperson.

“Not only floodplain graziers and the natural environment will be disadvantaged if the Northern Basin loses 70GL of water to irrigation. Whole communities, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal downstream of major irrigation areas will suffer as will stock and domestic supplies for properties reliant on a healthy river”, said Mr Terry Korn, president of the Australian Floodplain Association.

for interview and further comment

 Juliet Le Feuvre  Environment Victoria  0428 770 019
James Trezise Australian Conservation Foundation 0488 386 307
Rene Woods Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations 0447 847 399
Terry Korn Australian Floodplain Association 0424 299 929