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Action not words needed on Murray.

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KELVIN THOMSON Thursday 8 May 2003

Press Release from the Shadow Minister for Sustainability & Environment


The Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council meeting in Toowoomba, Queensland, tomorrow must commit to a plan of action to restore environmental flows to the Murray Darling Rivers.

The Murray River is presently on life support. People have been talking about the need to save the Murray for years, yet we are still waiting for action.

People who say we can save the Murray without delivering additional environmental flows are being dishonest and ignoring the science.

The science is clear. The Wentworth Group tells us that the Murray needs an extra 450 gigalitres of water in environmental flows to keep the mouth open. It further needs an additional 1500 gigalitres to give it a moderate chance of restoration to a healthy river system.

The health of the Murray is not negotiable. The challenge is not whether to provide those flows, but how.

If we don’t restore the health of the Murray, there will not be a river system capable of supporting farmers into the future.

Doing nothing is not an option. CSIRO experts claim that without any action, agriculture in the Basin will decline over the next 20 years due to salinity impacts on agriculture.

Back in 1994 the Federal Labor Government established a water reform process through the Council of Australian Governments to restore the health of our river systems. The Howard Government has allowed that process to languish and go around in circles.

After years of delay, the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council last year committed to making a decision on environmental flows by October this year. The truth is we should have made a decision years ago. Every delay means further decline for the Murray.

The Ministerial Council must commit to a plan to restore environmental flows to the Murray. It must commit to action rather than further delay.

For Further Information; Kelvin Thomson MP Phone: 9350 5777 Mobile: 0419 594 882 Gavan O’Neill Phone: 9350 5777 Mobile: 0417 118 146