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Cruel neglect

Wednesday, 23rd December, 2015

Lorraine Looney with husband Bob in 2012. The owner of the Menindee Bridge Caravan Park has described the state government’s treatment of the water crisis as “very cruel”. PICTURE: Paula Doran Lorraine Looney with husband Bob in 2012. The owner of the Menindee Bridge Caravan Park has described the state government’s treatment of the water crisis as “very cruel”. PICTURE: Paula Doran

By Erica Visser

Lorraine Looney first invested in Menindee during the 1970s when the region was thriving.

Her husband, Bob, worked as a miner in Broken Hill so the couple would spend their weekends by the lake. 

“When we came out here everything boomed, we had all the industry here, the grapes here, the well-paid miners were all coming out building shacks and I thought, ‘This is our future’.” 

But yesterday the owner of the Menindee Bridge Caravan Park shared a far different sentiment than that felt during those initial glory days. 

“It’s just crazy over the years to watch what’s happened where you’ve seen things deteriorating not improving,” Lorraine said.

“My husband and I have been to a lot of meetings (with government) and nothing’s been done; they just make promise after promise. It’s very cruel. 

“Bob and I are getting older but I feel sorry for the younger generations, I have children and grandchildren and I have a great grandchild living here who’s only a ‘littley’. 

“What’s her future going to look like?”

Lorraine was convinced the state government was preparing to decommission the lakes that have supplied the family, including her grape-growing grandson, with a livelihood for decades.

This is despite consistent reassurances from Water Minister Niall Blair that the lakes would remain regardless of the measure taken to secure Broken Hill’s long-term water security.

“When we used to get a flood, the water would evaporate but nowhere near as much as it supposedly does now, it can’t be all down to climate.

“The government have manipulated people and they’ve gotten away with it because people aren’t strong enough to stand up. Some are starting to now but I think it’s probably too late.”

But despite her concerns, Lorraine still insists having the lake listed on the international Ramsar treaty was not the answer.

Lorraine and Bob were outspoken against a past Ramsar bid, in 2012, which was headed by Regional Development Australia.

Lorraine says that the worsening of the drought in the meantime had done nothing to change her mind.

“I think regardless of what goes on it won’t make much difference. Of course it’s worthwhile saving the lakes but I don’t think Ramsar would help.

“When we were told about the Ramsar listing we found out that people would probably have to pay to camp on the lakes.

“The lakes are one of the few things that have been left alone in Australia. This is our freedom and there’s not much freedom left.”

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