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Thursday, 30 May 1996
Page: 1378


Senator LEES (Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats) —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the Senate—

(a)   notes:

   (i)   the Murray-Darling basin contains 75 per cent of Australia's irrigated land and agricultural production from the basin is valued at around $12 billion per year,

   (ii)   the changes to river levels, the alteration of flow regimes, the development of irrigation schemes and the clearing of native vegetation has led to irreversible changes in the hydrological regime of the basin and many biological systems have been modified or destroyed, and

   (iii)   that problems now facing the basin range from high salt and nutrient levels in rivers to rising groundwater tables; and

(b)   calls on the Government:

   (i)   to tackle the many problems faced by the Murray-Darling basin as a matter of urgency, and

   (ii)   to fund the urgently-needed upgrading of irrigation schemes and the mass replanting of many hectares of salt-prone land in the coming budget, with no strings attached.