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River concerns finally addressed

Saturday, 2nd April, 2016

By Darrin Manuel

If patience is truly a virtue, then Ngiyampaa Elder Dr Beryl Carmichael must surely have a case for a sainthood.

Dr Carmichael said she recently received a response from the government over a list of concerns about the Darling River - a list that was submitted almost a decade ago.

In 2007 a “Big Corroboree” meeting was held in Menindee about the future of the Darling, with around 30 motions developed by locals and Indigenous elders to send a message to the government to “stop killing the river”.

Organiser Dr Carmichael said the recommendations were then delivered to relevant State and Federal Government ministers by Corroboree secretary, Jennie Kerr.

Despite several attempts over the years to seek any response to the recommendations, Dr Carmichael said she had not heard a peep from Sydney or Canberra.

Then, when PM Malcolm Turnbull came to power in 2015, Dr Carmichael thought she would try her luck again, but this time approached the matter through different channels.

While Mr Turnbull was overseas late last year, Dr Carmichael forwarded the list of concerns to the Liberals’ deputy leader, Julie Bishop.

Dr Carmicheal said this may have been a catalyst in getting the ball rolling, as she received a reply just months later from NSW water minister, Niall Blair.

“Maybe she sent it back out to all the people who ignored us before.

“I didn’t open it for days when it arrived, I just stared at it, I just thought ‘it can’t be true.’

“I’m 80 years old now; I wrote to them when I was 70.”

Although it was pleasing to get a response, Dr Carmichael said the reply contained “nothing much” in relation to the Corroboree’s original requests, although she was happy to see an increase in water compliance officers.

“But nothing’s really changed; they’re still living in a world of denial,” she said of State and Federal politicians.

“They just don’t want to know that people exist out here.”

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