Over 80 community members representing various farming, Landcare and environment groups attended the inaugural meeting of the Richmond River Rescue on Wednesday night at the Lismore City Hall.
Convened by aspiring Nationals Party politician and former Telstra spin doctor, Rod Bruem, the meeting was called to gauge community support to establish a new environmental action group to focus on the important issues of restoring the Richmond River and its tributaries.
‘Richmond River is a disgrace and by any measure it’s getting worse not better,’ Mr Breum said.
He said the issue needed to be addressed now and addressed loudly by local stakeholders.
However, a split in community consensus rapidly became clear when co-convenor Phil Terry, a local farm owner, stated that the group did not want to see unnecessary laws such as mandatory fencing along river banks or other run off initiatives imposed on farmers whose land adjoins the river.
Landcare groups and local Greens Councillor Vanessa Ekins, having just heard from SCU Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett that farming activities over the past century were the largest cause of river degradation, did not warm to Terry’s position believing farmers needed to make reparations for their impact.
Other groups at the meeting queried the need for the existence of yet another river group but Rod Bruem maintained his goal was to bring all the existing groups under one umbrella to lobby for Federal funding.
The meeting in Lismore will be followed by a meeting in Ballina today, Thursday 23 February, at the Ballina Richmond River Room adjacent to the Library commencing at 6pm.