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‘Pass it on’: Blair

Friday, 8th May, 2015

By Craig Brealey

The NSW Water Minister has asked flooded Queensland to let more water flow down the Darling River.

Lands and Water Minister, Niall Blair, said he had sent a written request to the Queensland Government to be mindful of the needs of people in towns below the border.

Last week NSW prohibited irrigators from taking any water from the lower Darling for crops other than orchards or vineyards, and Mr Blair said he had asked Queensland to impose a similar embargo.

He was responding to a question this week from The Greens NSW water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham.

Mr Buckingham used his first question in the new parliament to ask whether rainfall in central and southern Queensland over the past several months was making its way into NSW, or whether it was being “sucked up by irrigators such as Cubbie Dam”.

Minister Blair replied: “I’ve written to my Queensland counterpart to express the view that although it’s a balancing act, we must look at the critical human consumption needs right across the basin, right across states, and that’s why we had to put the embargo back on in NSW. 

“I’ve written to my Queensland counterpart to ask whether they would consider, in future events, doing the same and I hope that they will favourably look upon that request in the future.” 

Mr Buckingham said that The Greens would continue to use parliament to advocate for the residents of Broken Hill and Menindee and to push for policies that will revive the Darling River.

“I was pleased to hear that the new minister has actually written to the Queensland Government to request that they set an embargo on water being taken out of the rivers that feed the Darling River,” he said.

“While infrastructure works around the Menindee Lakes are necessary, the ultimate solution to Broken Hill’s water issue is to revive the Darling River to a healthy state, and that’s what the Greens will be fighting for.”

While NSW has imposed an embargo on irrigators on the lower Darling, in Queensland irrigators want the State to give them control of irrigation.

The previous Liberal-National Government in Queensland was proposing to do just that before it was defeated at the elections last year.

Last month, the new Queensland Water Minister, Mark Bailey, said that the government was considering the idea but would not “automatically” endorse anything proposed by the former government.

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