May 10, 2006

Murray River needs more

Murray River needs more

MEDIA RELEASE – ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

10 May 2006

Experts agree the Murray River needs 1500 gigalitres to be a healthy working river – three times what Peter Costello gave in the Budget.

The Howard government has sat back for 10 years and watched while the Murray River has been reduced in some places to a trickle.

This giant river that sustains the nation has been reduced to the point whereby it needs dredging more often than not just to leave the mouth of the river open.

500 gigalitres for the Murray million is catch-up politics by the Howard Government.

After 10 long, dry years of the Howard Government, the Murray River desperately needed a drink.

It was Peter Costello’s shout, but in the Budget he bought the Murray a shot glass of water when it needs a schooner.

The Howard Government promises money but no water flows from their promises.

The Expert Review Panel appointed in 2001 by the Murray Darling Basin Commission found that to make the Murray “a healthy working river” again it needed 1500 gigalitres more water per year.

500 gigalitres for the Murray River is a start, but it’s not enough water, and more should be done about the causes of water problems now and for the future.

According to the CSIRO, climate change will mean rainfall in the Murray Darling basin is expected to fall by 25% and evaporation rates will rise.

This will have a major impact on Australian agriculture, our domestic food supply and exports.

Federal Labor put the Murray River on the agenda in 2003, and has committed to returning 1500 gigalitres back into the Murray River – that’s three times the volume of Sydney Harbour flowing back into the Murray each year.

The Treasurer’s belated acknowledgement that the Murray River is in crisis has not been matched by a commitment to do what is necessary to return the Murray to health.