Dick won’t forget and can’t forgive
Saturday, 9th November, 2019
By Craig Brealey
Dick Arnold says he will never forget the day he and his friend, Rob McBride, jumped into the pea-green remains of the Darling River and held up big, old Murray Cod that had suffocated.
Rob’s daughter, Kate, pulled out her phone and filmed them as Rob declared: “This is has nothing to do with drought. This is a man-made disaster.”
It was done on the spur of the moment but within a day the image had gone around the world.
“The next day Rob told me we’d had a couple of million hits. It was five million the day after that,” Mr Arnold told the BDT yesterday.
He said that at the time he could not remember what he said in the video on January 8 because he was so upset.
“I just spoke straight from the heart. It’s absolutely, bloody disgusting the way the government is treating this.”
Mr Arnold has little time for politicians these days, although he rates well the former NSW Shadow Water Minister Chris Minns, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and “a couple of others.”
But he said his best friend in politics was Rex Patrick, Centre Alliance Senator for SA, who visited Dick and wife Jan at their home near the bridge at Menindee on Tuesday.
“It was really nice to catch up again,” said Mr Arnold. “I think it’s excellent that the senator came out again for a look.
“The whole situation will affect South Australia immensely. In the past the Menindee Lakes were South Australia’s emergency water supply.”
Mr Arnold said it took the death of about three million fish this year to get any other politicians interested in the man-made disaster.
“The politicians all of a sudden rocked up - some good, some bad. Others you wished they’d never come - we know who they are.
“But no Federal people came out at the time, and it is the biggest environmental disaster in Australia’s history.
“I don’t know what it takes to crack the bullet-proof helmets they have for heads.”
Mr Arnold said he loved fishing and the sight of the masses of native fish belly up knocked him about.
“It hit me pretty hard and I had to back off for a while,” he said.
“Fish aren’t cute and cuddly, so nobody cared. But I do.
“The Murray Cod were bred here and the population was increasing beautifully.
“We used to ‘catch and release’ to enjoy the challenge of trying to catch this iconic Australian fish.
“Some big cod died where I’d been fishing. Now it’s destroyed.”
The only way to find out why this was allowed to happen was to call a Federal Royal Commission, said Mr Arnold.
“There is so much lying about it all. The taxpayers should wake up and stop this corruption,” he said.
“Overseas companies now own the water, the cotton farms, but only farmers should own the water so they can produce our food.
“It’s all just big investment and they’ve all got their finger in the pie.
“Members of Parliament should be accountable and declare their water investments.
“This country is getting destroyed. It’s nothing but greed and corruption by both political parties.
“It’s got to finish. I’m an old pensioner now but what about the young ones?”