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Byron Shire
May 11, 2021

Protection for Murray-Darling Basin farmers gutted

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The Murray-Darling Basin. Image: Wikipedia
The Murray-Darling Basin. Image: Wikipedia

The Australian Greens have condemned the Liberal, National and Labor parties for removing protection for farmers from subsidence mining in the Murray-Darling Basin in the federal Parliament this week.

‘The Liberal, Labor and National parties have deleted the section of the Water Act that requires mining companies to commission an independent expert study of surface water and groundwater impacts when planning mining projects in the Murray-Darling Basin,’ Queensland Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens mining spokesperson, said.

‘The Nationals haven’t done a thing to stop Tony Abbott’s latest assault on our land and water and voted for the removal of this protection today,’ Senator Waters said.

‘The Liberal, Labor and National parties are ignoring the passionate communities, who are locking the gate to the big mining companies and calling for our land and water to be properly protected.

‘Instead, they’re listening to the big mining companies and ripping up the measly protections already in place.

‘Tony Abbott is also plotting to hand federal environmental responsibilities, including the water trigger, over to state governments, and the Greens are urging the Senate cross-benchers to block this massive backward step in federal environment protection.

‘While the water trigger covers only large coal and coal seam gas mines, the Water Act protection, which the Liberal, National and Labor parties repealed today, covered all types of mining, including gold and copper,’ Senator Waters said.

NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon, Australian Greens water spokesperson, said the Abbott Government ‘is putting the big mining companies ahead of our rural communities and precious wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin.

‘The Minerals Council has now succeeded in having protections for the Murray-Darling Basin against mining scrapped altogether, after originally having them watered down in 2008,’ Senator Rhiannon said.

‘Newcrest, the owners of Australia’s largest underground gold mine near Orange, will be under even less scrutiny with this change. This mine has already had a massive impact on groundwater that supplies local farms and the town itself.

‘With the NSW government looking favourably at mines we need to strengthen independent studies on mining impacts on water not weaken them,’ Senator Rhiannon said.

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