Water & Murray Darling Basin
We know how crucial the Murray Darling Basin is for Australia’s food production and economy. We support reforms that will keep the system healthy all the way up from the Murray Mouth, wind back the over-allocation of water and restore precious ecosystems so they can keep sustaining Australia.
The Greens want to see reforms that will assist all Basin communities to build their jobs and economies and restore our internationally recognised wetlands and productive agricultural areas to good health. We recognise that this is one of the key reforms facing Australia over the next decade and we have to get it right.
We support the National Water Commission as an independent authority to oversee this process, and want to see all of their functions maintained. This includes the important work they have been carrying out in assessing the National Water Initiative, in particular on water reform related to mining. The Commission has been a strong voice for the protection of water from mining related activities.
We believe that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must have the opportunity to participate in water catchment planning and management, and there should be no new large-scale dams on Australian rivers.
18 Feb 2007
Senator Rachel Siewert has backed calls for the Federal Government to block WA Premier Alan Carpenter's request for funding to tap the Yarragadee aquifer.
"There is no doubt that with a $300 million kickstart from the Federal Government, Perth could be well on the way to a sustainable water future, said Senator Siewert.
07 Feb 2007
I rise today to move this reference to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee:
(a) the Senate notes the likely impacts on agriculture, the community and the environment of the proposed dam on the Mary River at Traveston Crossing in Queensland; and
(b) the following matters be referred to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee for inquiry and report by 27 March 2007:
(i) the impact on the Mary River, its dependent species and environs of the proposed dam,
(ii) the implications for communities living along the Mary River of the proposed dam to their livelihood and lifestyle, and
(iii) the balance of other options available to meet the regions water resource needs.
07 Feb 2007
"I'm pleased to see that the Premiers have resisted pressure to make a snap decision on this complex issue," said Senator Siewert today.
"I urge them to keep the pressure on Mr Howard to do the homework he should have done before rushing to announce his big spending plan," she said.
The Greens renewed their call for the Prime Minister to make the planning process transparent and accountable, and to release details of priorities, targets and timelines for public scrutiny.
"I am disappointed to hear that the Prime Minister continues to reject calls for water resource management within the Murray Darling Basin to be regulated by an independent statutory authority," said Senator Siewert.
"We are waiting with bated breath for the release of the details of the proposed new relationship between the renewed Murray Darling Basin Commission, the commonwealth and the states," she concluded.
05 Feb 2007
Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia) (6.06 p.m.)-by leave-
That the Senate take note of the government's response to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee's Rural water resource usage report of 2004.
This inquiry was referred to the committee on 21 October 2002. It received 78 submissions and held 11 hearings, in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Darwin, Kununurra, Griffith, Moree, St George and Berri. The inquiry dealt with the important topic of the state of rural industry based water resource usage and options for optimising water resource usage for sustainable agriculture-an issue that I note we are talking about yet again. The report addresses the issue of water access entitlements, environmental management needs, water trading arrangements, structural adjustment assistance, unintended consequences of water trade and the recovery of overallocated water. Does this sound familiar to anybody? These are all clearly important and outstanding issues.
04 Feb 2007
Water plan clearly rushed - PM missed big opportunity
"It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Prime Minister's big spending water plan is policy on the run," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"It is an effort to neutralise water and climate as election issues with buckets of money, rather than a thought-through whole-of-government approach."
24 Jan 2007
"The Commonwealth's new approach to fixing our water crisis is a farce," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"The Prime Minister is proposing a simple recipe in an election year - pick a fight with the states over control of water, splash lots of money around on infrastructure, but do not face up to the hard and politically confronting decisions needed to address over-allocation," she said.
05 Dec 2006
My question is to Senator Ian Campbell, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Is the minister aware of the findings in the Australia state of the environment 2006 report, released today, about the dramatic impact on wetlands-that the ecological characteristics of 22 Ramsar wetlands have changed?
Is the minister aware of the latest report on the Coorong which shows its ecological characteristics have changed?
The minister has received a letter from Gwydir landholders asking him to delist those wetlands. Is the minister going to put the Gwydir wetlands and the Coorong wetlands on the Montreux Record?
05 Dec 2006
The broad aim of the Convention on Wetlands, or, as it is better known, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, is to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve those that remain through wise use and management.The implementation of the convention on wetlands is guided by its mission statement, which is:
The conservation and wise use of wetlands, by national action and international cooperation as a means to achieving sustainable development throughout the world.
That means ensuring that activities which might affect wetlands will not lead to the loss of biodiversity or diminish the many ecological, hydrological, cultural or social values of wetlands.
05 Dec 2006
This is an extremely important issue at an extremely important, critical stage. We heard today that ABARE has released its latest forecasts for December. We have heard again that our winter crops are down 62 per cent and the forecast for summer crops is very poor, likely to be down at least 33 per cent, so the issue of drought, climate variability and climate change is of critical importance and on everybody's minds. We have also heard evidence about various wetlands being degraded and suffering. We also heard that the Murray is receiving its lowest flows ever, month after month-I think October was the lowest on record-and that by April-May next year our storages will be empty. The Murray river system in particular is running on empty.
08 Nov 2006
On behalf of Senator Milne and I, I move:
That the following matters be referred to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee for inquiry and report by 30 June 2007:
(a) the long-term impacts on Australian primary producers, rural communities and the environment of reduced and increasingly variable rainfall, increased temperatures and higher evaporation rates as a result of climate change; and
(b) potential adaptation strategies to mitigate these impacts to ensure the security of Australian food production and maintain the viability of rural communities.
This referral is about a topic of utmost importance to Australia. There has been mounting evidence for over two decades that climatic patterns in our agricultural zones are shifting. We have seen a long-term shift across a range of climatic measures, including annual rainfall, seasonality, the degree of variability both within and between seasons, higher average minimum and maximum temperatures and more extreme weather events. The impacts of these changes have a cumulative effect. For instance, higher temperatures increase evaporation rates, which combine with lower rainfall to further reduce the amount of water in storage.