Alan Veacock, Ballina Country Labor
Ballina Country Labor sadly discussed the unfolding environmental disaster in the Darling River near Menindee at its recent meeting.
Never has this country seen a freshwater fish kill of this magnitude. We all know the country is in drought, but many of those large Murray Cod are possibly 100 years old; how many previous droughts have they survived?
We found it both pathetic and predictable that the Nationals’ New South Wales Primary Industry minister Niall Blair and the Nationals’ federal Agriculture minister David Littleproud couldn’t blame the drought quickly enough.
Freedom of information documents obtained by the Labor Party reveal that the NSW government was warned by its own experts in 2012 that flow rules under its proposed 10-year plan for the Darling River would put threatened species of native fish at risk.
It also revealed the draft 10-year plan was based on a series of outdated flow classes developed over a decade earlier, even though river flows had plunged by as much as 73 per cent in some areas, and if the government proceeds with its changes and allows more water to be sucked out of the rivers the fish and other aquatic life will suffer.
We unanimously supported NSW Labor leader Michael Daly’s commitment to establish a commission of inquiry into water management by the NSW coalition government. The members also debated just what role the Nationals’ candidate for Ballina, Ben Franklin, played in passing the legislation in the NSW upper house to reduce water flows in the Darling basin.
Yet Mr Franklin wants us to trust the Nationals to fix the Richmond River.