Don't Fuck Up Your Vote


Murray-Darling Basin

Key Takeaways

  • The Murray-Darling Basin is an essential water body that covers one-seventh of the Australian continent
  • Scientists have been warning of devastation since the 1990s
  • Government want to reduce the amount of water under protection so more of it is diverted to farmers
  • Ecological evidence shows it’s not meant to dry out to disconnected pools – even during drought conditions [source]
  • Water diversions have disrupted the natural balance of wetlands that support massive ecosystems [source]
  • Recent reports of ‘unprecedented’ death of ‘hundreds of thousands of fish’ [source]
  • Evidence of illegal pumping by farmers has surfaced [source]
  • Royal commissioner Bret Walker charges the Murray-Darling Basin Authority with gross negligence and maladministration through an unlawful effort to manage political pressure.

Elevator Explainer

Getting so many States and Territories to harmoniously share such an important water body is a hard challenge, however the health of the basin has suffered at the expense of recent politicking. The Royal Commission findings highlight the fact that “politics rather than science ultimately drove the setting of the Basin” policy.

Core Issue

  1. Failure of evidence-based policy

How to fix?

  • Amend the Murray Darling Basin Plan, with plan to restore ecological harmony of basin as central target
  • Improve environment for evidence-based policy to be created

Labor’s plan

  • Labor’s water spokesman Tony Burke said it wanted to remove any restriction that could prevent water being returned to the environment. [source]
  • Greens, Labor looking to dump buyback cap [source]

The Greens Plan

  • Establish a national royal commission
  • Overhaul the Murray Darling Basin Plan, putting the environment at the centre
  • Ensure that any future modelling is done in the context of climate change
  • Ban corporate irrigator donations to political parties – including the Nationals
  • Ensure that any new plan delivers water buybacks to ensure proper environmental flows

Tim Storer (SA Independent) perspective

  • I have advocated for improvements to the Plan through tenacious questioning of the Murray Darling Basin Authority during Senate Estimates. [read more]

The Murray-Darling Basin is an essential water body which covers one-seventh of the Australian continent, accounts for one-third of its agricultural production and is home to two million people. [source]

The federal government want to reduce the amount of water it puts aside for environmental protection of the Northern Basin by 70 gigalitres (equivalent to 400 Olympic swimming pools), to supply more water for irrigation purposes to farmers. [source]

In recent years farmers have been diverting the water from the basin to provide water to irrigate their farms. However, the natural water system can only cope with “so much” water diversion, and “how much” is more or less the debate right now.

Four Corners did a special investigation into allegations of illegal pumping and fraud in the Barwon and Darling Rivers , and since those numbers have been reported to be up to 50 to 100 times greater than originally reported. [source]

The situation is further complicated with the role of Farming lobbyists and the power held by the Nationals, who many have argued, have been influenced by these large corporate interests groups to put the health of the basin at risk.

Government ‘exaggerating’ levels of water returning to Murray-Darling Basin: SBS Report

What the Government says

Articles from The Conversation

(let the experts talk)

Other articles

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