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World Wetlands Day challenge for Garrett: will he rule out the destruction of the Murray Lower Lakes?

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Media Release The Hon Greg Hunt MP Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water

Monday, 2 February 2009

World Wetlands Day Challenge for Garrett: Will He Rule Out the Destruction of the Murray Lower Lakes?

On World Wetlands Day, there is only one question for the Rudd Government’s Environment Minister: Will Peter Garrett rule out the destruction of the wetlands of the Murray Lower Lakes?

Under federal law, it will be Peter Garrett’s decision on whether to allow the seawater flooding of the Ramsar-listed wetland region.

On World Wetlands Day, Peter Garrett should be standing up for the Lower Lakes wetlands, not contemplating their demise.

So far he has given every indication that he will rubber-stamp the Rann Government’s plans to construct the Wellington Weir and allow the saline water to flood the Lower Lakes.

Earlier this month Peter Garrett approved works to upgrade the causeway to the Weir site. Why would you approve those works if you weren’t sympathetic to plans to flood the freshwater lakes with seawater?

Peter Garrett should use World Wetlands Day to rule out plans that would destroy the freshwater ecology of the internationally-renowned wetlands region of the Murray Lower Lakes and Coorong.

As record heatwave conditions continue in South Australia, there is no sign of practical action underway for water-saving infrastructure that would help to save 600 billion litres of water a year which could be vital to the Lower Lakes.

The plight of the wetlands of the Lower Lakes and Coorong is a crisis of international significance.

But along the Murray-Darling there is no sign of practical works that would deliver water savings. Water Minister Penny Wong still hasn’t delivered any works that would help the Lower Lakes.

World Wetlands Day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. The Lower Lakes and Coorong was designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1985, recognising its importance as an internationally significant waterbird habitat.