The Murray Darling Basin Plan has been so far diverted from its original intent that it is in breach of the Water Act 2007.
The world-first across-borders plan was to put the environment first, ensuring our basin rivers have enough water to be resistant to inevitable droughts - as they have been for millennia. Since then a lot of things have gone wrong for our rivers and their native fish.
The roll out of scandals that followed the airing of Four Corners Pumped in July 2017 was like a rollercoaster ride – and the Royal Commission report has spelt out that politics, not science, dictated how the Murray-Darling Basin plan was implemented, leading to a flouting of the law and irrigators receiving too much water.
Jobs the irrigation industry are given a lot of weight in the argument against further water buy backs, when the livelihoods and wellbeing of entire communities along the Darling River have been ignored.
Yet Niall Blair, the NSW Minister for Regional Water, continues to resist the common sense, economical solution of buying water back for the environment from willing sellers, claiming it would “decimate our regional communities”.
Tourism is worth as much as irrigated agriculture in the Basin – expenditure by overnight visitors to the Basin has increased by $1.8 billion over the past five years and is now worth around $7.5 billion per year. Income to communities from recreational fishing is also estimated to be worth around $1 billion each year to the basin, generating 10,000 jobs. But not everything is about money, the most powerful argument for healthy rivers comes from our First People.
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