…the subsequent lack of action by WaterNSW – even after the widespread publicity and public inquiries prompted by the Four Corner program – prompted EDO NSW to initiate civil enforcement action on behalf of the Inland Rivers Network.
“We took on this case to protect the health of the Murray-Darling Basin river system, which relies on proper compliance with the law,” Elaine Johnson, EDO’s principal solicitor, said.
“The report is derived from data which belongs to the public, was prepared for public purpose by servants of the public using taxpayers’ money, and should have been made available to the public,” Rex Patrick, the Nick Xenophon Team senator, said, adding the information was “highly relevant to the Northern Basin Review debate”.
“That it wasn’t made available for Parliament’s consideration is nothing short of a treachery,” Senator Patrick said.
Genuine science and comprehensive evidence provide balance in the debate over the Murray-Darling Basin in this article in the Sydney Morning Herald 15th Feb 18.
We hear from Mal Peters (former Chair of the Northern Basin Advisory Committee), Maryanne Slattery (former MDBA staffer), Bill Johnson (formerly a NSW environmental water manager and staffer with the MDBA) and Fiona Paton (environmental engineer with the University of Adelaide).
By: Dr Emma Carmody | Senior Policy and Law Reform Solicitor | EDO NSW
16 February 2018
On 14 February 2018, the Australian Parliament voted to disallow a proposed amendment to the Basin Plan to – amongst other things – take 70 GL (or 70 billion litres) away from the environment in the northern Murray-Darling Basin (MDB). The proposed amendment was based on work undertaken by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) as part of the Northern Basin Review (NBR).
Since our national Parliament exercised its right to reject this amendment, the State of New South Wales has intimated in an official media release that it will walk away from the Basin Plan, claiming that the NBR ‘was always part of the Basin Plan package’ and that ‘[t]his move makes the Basin Plan untenable for NSW.’
We have received a number of inquiries from clients about the meaning of these statements, and their possible implications for the ongoing management of scarce water resources in our largest – and most important – river system. The following analysis is designed to separate fact from fiction.
There is no time to waste. The Basin remains in a poor state.
The Murray-Darling Declaration was signed on 5 February 2018 by 12 leading experts on the Basin. The Declaration is about how to fix what is going wrong in the Murray-Darling Basin. It is not about politics or playing the ‘blame game’. The signatories have come together to make the Declaration to highlight their real concerns and to offer solutions.
The Northern Basin Review was a review of water recovery figures legislated under the current version of the Basin Plan. The idea was to undertake further scientific and socio-economic analysis to determine if new evidence justified varying the volume of water being returned to the river system in the Northern Murray-Darling Basin.
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority recommended removing 70 gigalitres (GL) of water from the pool of environmental water. Crucially, their recommendation included the removal of 14GL of water from the catchment that is home to the Gwydir Wetlands (near Moree) and 12GL from the catchment that is home to the Macquarie Marshes (near Warren), both of which are listed under the Ramsar Convention.
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Since 1997, the Ramsar Secretariat has provided outreach materials to help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands. 2018 Materials available to download www.worldwetlandsday.org