Stronger action needed to save the Murray Darling Basin

Friends of the Earth media release 26 October 2012

Recognition of Indigenous Values essential for fair Plan

Friends of the Earth (FoE) have called for bold and ambitious action to save the Murray Darling Basin, following Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement today of new funding to provide an additional 450 billion litres (gigalitres) of environmental flows in the river system.

FoE has also called for support to assist Indigenous Traditional Owners to manage water for cultural and environmental purposes as an essential component of an improved Plan.  

The funding announced today will help to recover 3,200 gigalitres of water for the environment by 2024, and allow more environmental targets to be met.

“This extra funding is a step in the right direction, but ongoing and decisive action is needed to save the ecology of the Murray darling Basin and the communities who depend upon it” said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Cam Walker.

“Environmental NGOs and Traditional Owner organisations have consistently called for environmental allocations of at least 4,000 gigalitres. This stance has been supported by the reputable Wentworth group of scientists, who today released an analysis showing that even allocations of 3,200 gigalitres fall well short of satisfying the requirements of the Commonwealth Water Act 2007 to deliver a healthy working Murray-Darling Basin,” Mr Walker said.

“The flexible nature of the commitment has its own risks. While the adjustment mechanism will allow for an increase to 3,200 GL from 2,750 by 2024 there are no guarantees that this will happen. Even if full amounts are found, the river will wait too long for relief in a time of impending drought, and there are risks that all promised water will not be delivered as the target of 2,750 GL can be adjusted down”.

“Friends of the Earth has been working with Indigenous Nations who have lived alongside the waterways of the Murray Darling Basin for millennia. We call on State and Federal Governments to recognise Indigenous needs by providing adequate ecological and cultural allocations of water, ensuring meaningful inclusion in water planning, and funding ongoing research.”

Further comment.
Cam Walker 0419 338 047