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New bid to list Menindee Lakes

Friday, 30th January, 2015

The beautiful Menindee lakes, as they looked before they were drained, deserve world heritage protection. The beautiful Menindee lakes, as they looked before they were drained, deserve world heritage protection.

By Erica Visser

There’s a strong case for Kevin Humphries being the “worst water minister of all time”, according to one Labor Councillor. 

City Council has received a letter following concerns over water security in the region, but the reply didn’t offer anything new.

Drilling for bore water continues at Menindee Lake and temporary restrictions have been placed on irrigators in northern NSW extracting recent flows.

But Mr Humphries wasn’t doing enough in the midst of the crisis, said Councillor Peter Black at Council’s monthly meeting on Wednesday night.

“There’s a case for ‘Hollywood’ (Mr Humphries) as the worst water minister of all time... I think you have to go back a long way to find someone worse,” Cr Black told fellow councillors.

“I don’t know how he can sidestep this matter any longer.”

Council went on to unanimously vote to request the state government’s support in resurrecting a nomination for Menindee Lakes as a world heritage Ramsar site.

Work to have the lakes listed as a protected wetland was undertaken in 2011, but the efforts were not recognised following opposition from residents.

Mr Humphries yesterday provided the following statement on the matter:

“Ramsar listings fall under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and as such are a Commonwealth responsibility.

“However, I would be happy to meet with Broken Hill City Council to discuss its proposal should they request a meeting.”

Cr Marion Browne said on Wednesday the renewed bid was chance to “flush out the minister”.

“The future of the lakes is something that’s really important, especially given our critical water situation.

“Another issue is the long-term management of the lakes. It’s not totally clear what’s happening there.

“As far as I can see, there’s around six Ramsar sites along the Murray and not a single one on the Darling.

“If you have that kind of recognition it’s of international significance and there would be a safeguard to maintaining the integrity of that.”

Cr Browne acknowledged the move would be a “lengthy and complex process” weighed down by paperwork, but said timing was critical.

There were fears that mooted plans to build a pipeline from the Murray River could result in the lakes being decommissioned. 

“It just seems to me that the Darling is used as a bit of a drain,” Clr Brown told the BDT. 

“There’s no in-built protection for the environment of the lakes.

“All of those lovely photos of the sunset and the bird life - it needs to be preserved.

“This motion was about getting some agreement in principal, whether or not (Mr Humphries) would be prepared to support that.”

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