Years of reckless government policy and over-extraction of water by greedy irrigators in NSW and Victoria has led to environmental devastation in the Murray-Darling Basin and a lack of diversity of crops across our national food bowl. Our environment and food security are under threat, and hundreds of millions of taxpayer’s dollars have been misused.
The Murray-Darling is in crisis, Australian farmers are in crisis and our national food bowl make-up is in crisis.
Rex has made the sustainable use of this great river system one of his main priorities. He’s travelled extensively through the Basin, in South Australia and upstream. He’s spoken to farmers, local communities, tourism operators, First Nations people, agricultural and environmental experts and water regulators. He’s witnessed the appalling mass fish kills firsthand and walked along dry riverbeds.
He’s determined to fight for this great national treasure that is the lifeblood of much of our continent and a foundation of our nation's security. This mighty river system is a critically important resource for South Australia and South Australians, from Renmark to the Coorong to Adelaide and all the way to Whyalla.
Multiple scandals, including allegations of millions of taxpayer dollars being handed to irrigators to expand their operations and use more water, has shown the success of the Murray Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) is at great risk.
Rex lodged an Order for Production of Documents on his first day in the Senate which ultimately led to the exposure of the #Watergate scandal. Whilst Rex has continued to expose policy failure, incompetence and other questionable conduct, a Federal Royal Commission into the multiple allegations of wrongdoing is essential to achieve reform and restore confidence in the Plan.
The NSW Government has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the MDBP if their demands are not met. Multiple Water Resource Plans have been delivered late. NSW cannot enjoy the benefits of the Plan during the good times and then stop complying with the plan when the going gets tough. All states must work together. The Federal Government must use as much coercive power as necessary to force NSW to meet the commitments it has agreed to.
Cotton, a water intensive crop, takes more than 20 per cent of the irrigation allocation in the Murray-Darling Basin. We are effectively exporting 20 per cent of our river, something that makes no sense for the driest inhabited continent on the planet. We can’t let cotton turn the Murray-Darling into a wasteland like the Aral Sea!
Mass Fish Kills
The summer of 2018/19 saw a tragedy of mass fish deaths along the Darling River and the Menindee Lakes. Experts from the Australian Academy of Science concluded that "the root cause of the fish kills is that there is not enough water in the Darling system to avoid catastrophic decline of condition through dry periods." Decisive action is needed to avoid future mass fish kills and towns having no access to water.
What can we do?
- Establish a Federal Royal Commission, which is essential to deal with the many serious allegations that have piled up against the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, including, rorting, thieving and dodgy water buybacks
- Undertake large-scale water buybacks from willing sellers under open tender to help restore the river and prevent further mass fish kills
- Reduce large-scale irrigation, especially cotton farming in the northern basin
- Implement all recommendations of the South Australian Royal Commissioner
- Stop Federal MDBP payments to NSW until they are compliant with all obligations under the Plan
- Nationalise management of the Murray-Darling river system. With four states, one territory and the federal government all having a say in how the river is run, it is clear there are too many chefs spoiling the broth. Little progress can be made while vested interests can exert an effective veto through their state governments. We need to amend the Australian Constitution to give the Commonwealth Parliament clear authority to manage Australia’s national water resources for the benefit of all Australians while also protecting the environment