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Kate on tele good timing for river

Thursday, 16th May, 2019

Kate McBride’s profile by “Australian Story” has resulted in her being overwhelmed with calls from people around the nation asking what they can do to help save the Darling River. PICTURE: Emily McInerney Kate McBride’s profile by “Australian Story” has resulted in her being overwhelmed with calls from people around the nation asking what they can do to help save the Darling River. PICTURE: Emily McInerney

By Craig Brealey

Politicians might not want to know about the Darling River but ordinary people and the next generation certainly do, says Kate McBride who was the subject of last week’s “Australian Story” on the ABC.

The popular weekly documentary showed how Kate had gone from being a schoolgirl walking in the dry river bed on her father’s sheep station three years ago to a leader in the fight to save the river from extinction.

Public anger at the destruction of the Murray-Darling system due to the over-extraction of water from its tributaries for cotton growing resulted in the National party being voted out in western NSW at the recent state election.

But the scandal had been all but ignored in this federal election campaign which made the showing of “Australian Story” very important, Kate told the BDT yesterday.

“It really came out at the right time because it has not been touched on at all at this election,” she said from Adelaide where she is studying commerce at university.

“The response has been absolutely incredible from people all over the country asking ‘what can we do to help, how can we get involved?’

“It has been really overwhelming on Facebook and with emails and phone calls. All last week and this week I’ve been trying to reply. I still have about 20 messages on my phone.

“A lot of people had an idea that something was wrong with the river but didn’t understand how bad the Darling is at the moment.”

Kate has now been invited to talk to students at “heaps of schools” in Adelaide.

“So many teachers have messaged me after seeing ‘Australian Story’ because they want to do a unit of inquiry to teach the kids about the rivers, especially the Murray-Darling Basin.

“They said the children now really want to learn about the Barkindji people and places like Wilcannia and Menindee.

“I hope in the next few weeks to really show the children what has gone wrong with the Darling and how much people rely on it.

“It gives me faith in the next generation. Going through school I even took water for granted until our river went dry.”

Kate first appeared on television in 2017 in the Four Corners’ documentary that exposed water theft in northern NSW and collusion between the state government and large cotton growers.

She was shown walking and riding her motorbike on the dusty river bed at her father Rob’s Tolarno Station, 45km south of Menindee.

The river is no better but fortunately water has come from elsewhere, she said yesterday.

“Tolarno has had some good rain over the last few weeks so we’ve been very fortunate. 

“We’re still getting hay up, like everyone else, and hopefully with the rain we can show the young sheep what green looks like!”

But any hope of change to river management was still some way off, if this election campaign was any guide, she said. 

“The other day I was invited onto a Channel Seven show called “The Latest” and was asked if Scott Morrison had been out to look at the river. 

(“The Latest” is a new nightly news bulletin).

“When I said he hadn’t the bloke interviewing me was in disbelief that after the fish kills, this ecological disaster, the prime minister had not even been out.

“They’re just going around to all these marginal electorates instead of going to where it really matters.”

Kate said she had invited the PM to visit the Darling some time ago.

“Scott Morrison still hasn’t replied.

“But we’ll find out who has been elected and, no matter what party, we will work with them and inform them.”

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