Action in Menindee
Monday, 4th March, 2019
By Myles Burt
Hundreds of people rallied in Menindee yesterday for the NSW Aboriginal Land Council’s ‘When the River Runs Dry’ campaign.
The water rally kicked off at 11am as protesters marched out of Burke and Wills Park to the Menindee Bridge.
A minute’s silence was held for the Darling River, along with some short speeches.
Signs and banners where in abundance whilst many attendees wore NSWALC-designed t-shirts.
News crews, including the BBC and NITV, were on the scene documenting the event.
To finish off the event more speeches were held at Burke and Wills Park, as well as a poetry reading and a dance by local Indigenous children.
Menindee was just one of six other river towns participating in a state-wide rally as the NSWALC demands a Commonwealth royal commission into the management of the Murray-Darling Basin, a state-level special inquiry to address NSW water mismanagement, equal partnership with Aboriginal people, including the Aboriginal Land Council, in all decisions on water planning and management, along with a suspension of water trading in the Barwon-Darling River System.
NSWALC councillor Charles Lynch was quite pleased about the large turnout from the Menindee community along with other river communities across the state.
“It’s not just about Aboriginal people, water affects everybody,” Mr Lynch said.
“It’s a shame it took such a large fish kill to highlight the fact we’ve got no water, and water itself is a basic human right isn’t it?
“The really good thing and the passionate thing about it all I suppose is that it’s been the whole of community.
“Because as I said, lack of water doesn’t discriminate.
“Black, white or brindle, dog or plant, without it we all suffer and we don’t survive.”
Mr Lynch who is a councillor for the Northern Region said the water issue is incredibly crucial as even his own town of Tamworth has been running out of water.
“Even in my community, it’s only got three months water supply and Keepit Dam is less than one per cent,” Mr Lynch said.
“Water everywhere right now, the management of water and the future management of water is paramount.”
Mr Lynch reinforced the Aboriginal Land Council’s demand for an Indigenous voice on the Murray Darling Basin Authority and a Federal royal commission.
“Not a tokenistic position, a genuine consultation and input position,” Mr Lynch said.
“We saw what happened in the South Australian royal commission and they didn’t get to speak to certain people, they were legislated not to speak from the MDBA.”
“The reality is it needs to be done and done properly.”
“Our Barka communities and the Darling and Murray, they want to be consulted.”
“We need to be informed, our people have looked after these rivers for many years.”
“We’re not going to say that we need to control it but it’s a big part of our culture.”
“Again, it’s about basic human rights.”
Chair of the Menindee ALC Cindy Bates and resident Barbara Quayle were incredibly pleased with the turn out for the rally, after all the hard work they’d done in preparation for it.
“Great effort, everything that people have put into today is fantastic,” Ms Quayle said.
“There’s been a lot of people that’s put in a lot of hard work.
“Let’s just hope that the government can see we’re all serious,” Ms Bates said.
“They can’t leave our rivers dry.”