The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) welcomes the Senate’s decision to protect our rivers, wetlands and wildlife by rejecting an attempt to weaken water recovery targets under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
ACF Director of Campaigns, Dr Paul Sinclair, said the proposed reduction to the Northern Basin sustainable diversion limit of 70 billion litres of water would have been devastating for the Darling River system and communities downstream of Bourke.
Dr Sinclair added that threats by NSW and Victoria to withdraw from the Basin Plan revealed a disturbing lack of commitment to ensuring healthy rivers for all that rely on them.
“There are currently criminal and corruption investigations looking at water mismanagement in the Northern Basin. Now state and federal governments want further cuts to the amount of water available for flows, wildlife and wetlands in the same river systems,” Dr Sinclair said.
“They should instead be working to deliver the Basin Plan in full and on time, and to implement reforms that protect water for rivers and stop dodgy dealings on the Murray-Darling.
“The ALP, Greens, Nick Xenophon Team and other crossbench Senators have drawn a line in the sand today. They have committed themselves to delivering the full intent of the Basin Plan, which is required to restore our inland rivers back to health.
“Many of the Basin’s freshwater fish nurseries are in the Darling River system. The water protected by the Senate today will ensure that these species can breed and survive in our inland rivers.
“The Turnbull, NSW and Victorian governments must now join the Senate in committing to recovering the equivalent of 3200 billion litres of water as promised under this historic reform to save our most important river system. They need to get on with the critical task of removing constraints that stop environmental water being used to sustain floodplain forests and wetlands.
“Ultimately, we need our elected representatives to continue making courageous, evidence-based decisions that put our shared future and the health of our rivers – Australia’s lifeblood - ahead of short-term political gain.”