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Small win for region

Friday, 16th February, 2018

River advocate Kate McBride River advocate Kate McBride

By Emily Roberts

The move to disallow changes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan has been seen as a small win for advocates in the region.

The belief that the Murray Darling Basin Plan will fail has been misrepresented throughout various media outlets, according to river advocate Kate McBride.

The recent decision to disallow proposed changes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan has had many people believing the sky will fall in.

“It’s been interesting to see the way the media has portrayed it,” the Darling River advocate said.

“What the decision will mean is more water down the river, which was in the basin plan originally.”

On Wednesday night, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young had moved a Disallowance Motion to overturn recommendations by the Murray Darling Basin Authority to reduce by 70 gigalitres (Gl) the water recovery target for the Northern Basin within the Murray Darling Basin Plan. 

The Motion was passed with the support of the Labor Party and some of the cross-bench.

“No one knew what was going to happen,” Ms McBride said.

“But this 70Gl was already in the plan when it got rolling, they weren’t allowed to keep it in the North.

“The fact is it was originally in the plan and this decision means that people won’t be allowed to erode the water.

“Everywhere is already dry, at Tolarno Station we are ankle deep, Menindee Lakes is dry.

“This water will go down the lakes and further - that’s the important thing.”

Cotton Australia’s General Manager Michael Murray said this has set a bleak fate for the Basin.

“The Greens’ Disallowance Motion has sealed a bleak fate for the Murray Darling Basin, its people and communities, who have every reason to be outraged and dismayed at the politics that have led to this point,” Mr Murray said.

“Based on the modelling by the Murray Darling Basin Authority, communities in the Northern Basin can expect to suffer the loss of 180 jobs as a result of this Motion, a devastating blow for small towns.”

Ms McBride, who is from Tolarno Station, said it was important to think of those on the Darling River as well.

“What about the livelihoods of those in Menindee, or along the Darling River?

“What about people in Broken Hill?

“We need that as well. The people in Wilcannia are facing one of the lowest life expectancies in Australia.

“No one is talking about that. Wilcannia needs the water as well.

“They can argue that it will cost them 180 jobs, but we need to start arguing that it will cost us as well.”

Ms McBride said it was important not to forget the actions already taken against the river system.

“What has happened pales in significance to the actions to undermine the plan,” she said.

“The decision was probably made because the Senators could see that compliance wasn’t being taken seriously in NSW.

“It’s time for Niall Blair to address the systemic issues in his department.

“I would also like to thank everyone that called up the Senators to tell them about this issue.

“It was a group effort that has made this vote happen.”

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