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Graziers want share of record-breaking rains

Monday, 7th January, 2019

Rob McBride addresses a protest rally in Sturt Park in November last year. PICTURE: Michael Murphy Rob McBride addresses a protest rally in Sturt Park in November last year. PICTURE: Michael Murphy

By Craig Brealey

Water is making its way into a major tributary of the Darling River from the record-breaking rainfall in northern Queensland and a local grazier says irrigators should not be allowed to take it all.

Rob McBride of Tolarno Station, below Menindee, has written to government to ask that an embargo on pumping from the flows be imposed on irrigators.

“We understand that there has been rainfall in the Balonne River catchment in Queensland that irrigators are allowed to pump under current rules,” Mr McBride posted on his station’s Facebook page yesterday.

“We have written to the Prime Minister, Premiers of NSW and Queensland, and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the relevant ministers to ask that there be embargoes put in place as a matter of urgency.

“We will keep you posted as we get the replies in.”

Last week, a red alert was issued for the presence of toxic blue-green algae in the river at Tolarno Station. 

The algae now infests almost the entire length of the river in which about 10,000 native fish were found dead late last month, and another major kill was discovered yesterday.

Mr McBride told the BDT the situation was desperate on the Lower Darling.

“They have drained the Menindee Lakes twice in four years and the river is polluted.

“In the next two or three weeks it will be filled with rotting carcasses and what is left of the river will be in block banks with the blue green algae that will kill the livestock.

“What happens then? Do we have to pack up and leave? The people of the Lower Darling could become refugees in their own country.”

However, Mr McBride said he was hopeful that the new year would bring change because the findings of South Australia’s Murray-Darling Royal Commission and the NSW ICAC’s investigation of allegations of corruption were due next month.

“This could be a watershed year for the Darling River,” he said.

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