Environmental mismanagement runs deeper than the ecological tragedy gripping the Murray-Darling Basin. Recent policy decisions around native forest logging in NSW follow the same pattern of ignoring science and favouring extractive industry over the public interest, writes Dr Oisín Sweeney
No wetlands, no water, no fish, no future: who’s going to sort out the mess?
World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971. This year the theme is wetlands and climate change and in Australia it could be not timelier.
Bill Johnson, River Ecologist and former Water Manager with the Murray Darling Basin Commission
For a few years in the 1990’s the NSW water agency had on display, in the foyer of its offices in Parramatta, a statue celebrating tampering with irrigation meters and, by association, water theft. Sculpted by the Department’s creative souls in Moree, this two metre high artwork was exhibited in Head Office. It was the agency’s celebration of the larrikin irrigator, his irreverence and defiance of authority, even while that agency was the authority being defied.
My Dearest Darling,
From the first time that I sat beside you in 1974, I have always loved you. Your peacefulness, your beauty, your generosity, your power. Gradually I learnt your history and came to know the people who have loved you since time began. The more I got to know you, the more I loved you – through the good times and the bad, through the floods and the dry times. From Wiimpatja I learnt a little bit about the customs of caring for you and understanding you. These customs had ensured that you nourished people with water, food, shelter, warmth in winter, coolness in summer, celebrations, stories and meaning.
Bev Smiles, President, Inland Rivers Network
The Murray Darling Basin Plan, gazetted in November 2012, has a budget of $13 billion to fund a new direction for water management and water sharing in one of the world’s largest river basins. It is the most expensive natural resource management project in the nation.
Terry Korn, President, Australian Floodplain Association
The health of the Darling River system is at a tipping point. Can the system survive the next round of negotiations over how it should be managed? Terry Korn, president of the Australian Floodplain Association discusses a major issue of concern which could seriously impact on recovery of water for the environment, floodplain graziers, Aboriginal culture and small communities downstream of Bourke.
The Australian government has committed almost $15 billion to the largest rural restructure program in Australia and expects to effect significant changes to water management in the Murray-Darling Basin without affecting the reliability of water supply to the irrigation industry. This is an admirable but unreal aspiration.