Call for ac­tion af­ter damn­ing al­le­ga­tions

Shepparton News - Country News - - WATER -

Speak Up cam­paign spokesper­son Doug Fehring said the re­lease of the Ernst & Young re­port, as well as the Aus­tralia In­sti­tute pa­per, should be ring­ing alarm bells at the high­est level of gov­ern­ment.

‘‘We have a $13 bil­lion basin plan which is rid­dled with flaws; the more ev­i­dence that is com­piled through its im­ple­men­ta­tion, the more we learn about its in­con­sis­ten­cies and in­ad­e­qua­cies,’’ Mr Fehring said.

‘‘Our con­cern is that the po­lit­i­cal risk to gov­ern­ments of ad­mit­ting they have an­other pink batts on their hands is too great, so the is­sues are ig­nored.’’

He said these lat­est rev­e­la­tions in­di­cated that wa­ter, which was sup­posed to be sent to the Coorong as en­vi­ron­men­tal flows, had been held back to keep the Lower Lakes at a prime re­cre­ation height.

Ad­di­tion­ally, in 2015-16 the South Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment de­ferred its en­ti­tle­ments, re­plac­ing them with en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter, but failed to de­liver this wa­ter to the Coorong.

It has also failed to use its de­sali­na­tion plant to pro­vide Ade­laide with wa­ter, in­stead us­ing Mur­ray River flows, de­spite these com­ing at sub­stan­tial cost to com­mu­ni­ties fur­ther up­stream.

‘‘While wa­ter is keep­ing the Lower Lakes at op­ti­mum level for boat­ing, it is not be­ing used to help the en­vi­ron­ment, and at the same time is sig­nif­i­cantly im­pact­ing the amount of wa­ter avail­able for food pro­duc­tion, es­pe­cially in ar­eas like the NSW Mur­ray and north­ern Vic­to­ria,’’ Mr Fehring said.

‘‘This is re­duc­ing the amount of food avail­able for Aus­tralian con­sump­tion, as well as what we can ex­port to starv­ing peo­ple through­out the world.

‘‘Should we re­ally be putting re­cre­ation for a mi­nor­ity above grow­ing food and pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment?

‘‘There should also be huge con­cern about the lack of trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity in wa­ter man­age­ment, which is an is­sue that Speak Up has raised con­tin­u­ously for three years.

‘‘Why were re­ports which ques­tioned the South Aus­tralian use of wa­ter not made pub­lic?

‘‘Why were they not avail­able for the vi­tal meet­ing of wa­ter min­is­ters in De­cem­ber, or other in­quiries in­clud­ing a royal com­mis­sion?

‘‘How much more dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion is be­ing with­held from the pub­lic, prob­a­bly to pro­tect politi­cians and bu­reau­cra­cies?’’

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