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Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Page: 63


Senator Bartlett asked the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 26 March 2004:

(1) Has the Commonwealth investigated the fish kills in the Darling River between the Menindee Lakes and Pooncarie which took place during January 2004; if so, can the Minister table in the Senate any reports that have been prepared in relation to the incident.

(2) How many Murray cod are estimated to have been killed following releases of water from Menindee Lakes during January 2004.

(3) Under Part 7 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, are state governments required to refer to the Minister any proposals to release water from water storages that were built prior to July 2000 that are likely to have a significant impact on a listed threatened species (other than a conservation dependent species).

(4) Does the Minister consider that the New South Wales Government was required to refer the proposals to make two 150 megalitre releases from Menindee Lakes in January 2004 under Part 7 of the Act; if not, why not.

(5) Has the Commonwealth investigated the fish kills in the Goulburn River between Nagambie and Murchison which took place during January 2004; if so, can the Minister table in the Senate any reports that have been prepared in relation to the incident.

(6) How many Murray cod and Trout cod are estimated to have been killed in the Goulburn River between Nagambie and Murchison during January 2004.

(7) Does the Minister consider that the Victorian Government was required to refer any proposals to make releases from Lake Eildon in January 2004 under Part 7 of the Act: if not, why not.

(8) Has the Commonwealth informed the New South Wales Government and Victorian Governments of their statutory obligations in relation to the management of water storages under the Act.


Senator Ian Campbell (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The Commonwealth is currently undertaking investigations into the fish kills in the Darling River between Menindee Lakes and Pooncarie, NSW.

(2) The total number of Murray Cod killed along the stretch of River between Menindee and Pooncarie is not known.

(3) The potential application of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) to activities such as releases from water storages is dependent on a number of matters, including what permits, licences or other forms of authority may have been issued in respect of the water releases under State legislation.

(4) The possible application of the EPBC Act in relation to this matter is under investigation.

(5) The Commonwealth is currently investigating the fish kill in the Goulburn River between Nagambie and Murchison, Victoria.

(6) Advice from the Victorian Government puts estimates of the number of Murray Cod killed at more than 90 fish. The number of Trout Cod killed is not known at this stage.

(7) Refer to (3) above.

(8) The Department has contacted the relevant agencies in NSW and Victoria responsible for the management of water releases about these matters and discussions are continuing.