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Ironbar cracks again « Previous | |Next »
April 6, 2004

murray3.jpg He is at it again. Having a go at placing barriers to hard won public policy shift to a sustainable Australia that would boost the river flow of the River Murray by just 3%.

Last time it was Canberra, national parks and bushfires. This time it is the Murray-Darling-Basin and water.

He, of course, is Wilson 'Ironbar' Tuckey. The deposed minister has led a bankbench revolt against the Howard Government's policies to restore health to the ailing River Murray.

The form the revolt has taken is the publication of the interim Federal Parliamentary committee report, Inquiry into Future Water Supplies for Australia’s Industries and Communities, being undertaken by the House of Representatives Standing Committee of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Since the committee is dominated by Coalition MPs' it's report represents a revolt within government ranks.

The report comes out against CoAG's decision to restore 500 gigalitres of water to the Murray by reducing the amount available for irrigators and to use the water to help restore six iconic Murray sites. It says that the money is better spent on conducting an audit of water resources and uses within the river system.

The justification? The ecological science upon which the CoAG decision was based has knowledge gaps. The committee appears to have relied on work such as this and this. This work lies behind the politics of saying that we should delay putting water back into the river to nurse it back to health because we do not know enough. Their argument is that the gaps mean inaction.

We do know that the redgums in the Chowilla floodplain in SA are dying:
Andrew Tatnell, dying River red gums in the ‘Garden of Eden’, Chowilla

They are dying from the twin effects of lack of flooding and rising groundwater salinity. They desperately need a drink.

We have met some of these anti-green politicians before and engaged with some of their arguments. Their rearguard action is being argued in SA by Patrick Secker in South Australia, whose electorate of Barker incorporates the lower Murray. He is going around the state saying that we haven't got enough evidence to make decisions about environmental flows and that we haven't really thought about what we are trying to achieve. He says nothing about the need to ensure the sustainable management of the resource base.

That photo of dying river gums in the Chowilla floodplain would indicate otherwise. As does the hypersaline conditions in the southern Coorong, which have resulted from a lack of river flow.
John Baker

In both cases it is the biological communities and the riverine habitat that suffer from lack of water. So more water is needed.

The scientists who point this out as part of their research are accused of advocating the environmental cause by National Party Ministers. They are not dispassionate obervers. Do these these Minsiters have good reasons for saying that a positivist science is better than an ethically-informed and politically engaged science?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:22 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)

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David Mariuz The trees in the Chowilla floodplain near Renmark in South Australia are close to dead. Some have [Read More]