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Action on the Murray



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- ^ D l A _RBLgASE ; FEDERAL/STATE MURRAY RIVER COMMISSION

“ 5 August 19S3' . .

' ‘ " a c t i o n o n - t h e h u r r a y -

The Opposition parties in Federal Parliament recently formed a River Murray Committee to ensure the recognition and protection'- of"the River Murray .and. concluded a tour- of the entire region in Adelaide to-day. ""

The Committee comprises all Federal Members on the River, together with Shadow Ministers from the State Oppositions in N.S.W. Victoria and South Australia under the chairmanship of . ‘ '

David Connolly, Federal Opposition Spokesman on the Environment.

"This is the first time any of the major political parties at both a Federal/state level have developed a co-ordinated approach to overcoming the challenges facing Australia's most important natural resource," Mr Connolly said.

"We believe that these problems can best "be? overcome by a co-operative approach within our Federal system of government."

The River Murrayr Darling Basin i-s -th-e· most important agricultural region in Australia, -Although it occupies only " one-seventh of the continent, it contains' , approximately one quarter of the cattle herd, one half of the cropped land and

three quarters of the nation's irrigated areas. ~ .

Its natural resources directly and "indirectly support some two million people and contributes a total primary and secondary production estimated to be in excess of $10,000 million per annum.

The Committee alms to. develop a co-ordinated plan of action, recognising that the main problems are the salinization of land caused by increasingly high water tables; the adverse.effects of saline water on crops, the River's ecology and the urban users,

The Committee's proposals are as -follows; '

1. We believe that programmes which affect the River Murray system should not be Initiated prior to full consultation with the River Murray Commission, For example,, water and -.soil conservation programmes which may-effect the River Murray ‘ -and its tributaries.should, as .far as possible, be uniform

" in their objectives and application^ ; * - - - · · · · ■ · ·... — - -

2. That a co-ordinated national -soil conservation programme - ' "over twenty five years should be developed -in constipation with the states to meet the identified reclamation", -- ■ water':.logging aud salinity problems found in the dry and, -

irrigated areas of the Basin,

3. We are dismayed at the Hawke Government’s failure to support the Bicentennial Water Resources Programme and National Water Resources Programme. On regaining government, we will review these programmes to ensure that the water security and

quality problems of the River Murray will be overcome.

4. We recognise that improved water quality and quantity may requite a later date, the construction of additional water storages in the Murray/Darling system, the diverting of saline water out of the valley area and the upgrading of

the Menindee Lake storage system. in the meantime, in

2.

' accordance with the Mauasell Report recommendations that government financial assistance should be directed at encouraging the individual farmer to improve irrigation management efficiency. Measures at the farmer level are seen as „

complimenting publicly funded engineering works aud, In some case, as a substitute for them,

5. The ecological-welfare of the River Murray must be protected. Accordingly, the River Murray Commission will ensure that sufficient water is provided to maintain the.unique red gum forests, native fisheries and ibis rookeries.

6. Recognising the damaging effects of nutrients to the River from nearby towns and sewerage plants, off River municipal disposal and treatment plants should be implemented,

7. A major tree planting programme should be integrated into desalination and soil programmes for the River Murray and its tributaries. Local government and farmers must be encouraged to plant appropriate native and exotic species,

8. The R.M.C, should, in association with State and local authorities, prepare a draft management plan for the River Murray. The draft plan should be considered by a ministerial council comprising representatives from the Federal and " State authorities of the River Murray Commission. The River Murray Commission should co-ordinate with the State authorities,

the implementation of an agreed management plan in five year stages over a planning period of twenty five years.

9. That the River Murray Commission should be responsible for co-ordinating research priorities with regard to matters involving the River Murray,

10. The River Murray Commission should conduct an extensive public awareness programme at the national level, with the assistance of State authorities. For example, through " schools and organisations such as the Murray Valley League,

I

Further information : David Connolly 02 442516, A.H, . Day Id" Wot ton. Qpposi tion Spokesman on

’ "the Environment, south Australia " 08 3911 777 A.H.

Lou Lieberman, representing" Victorian Opposition, 080 244216 A.H,

Peter Collins. Opposition Spokesman on the Environment and Planning, NSW,

" Q2 439 8719 A.H,