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Government exposed in Paroo River developments

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 16 Aug 2008

The Greens said today that the Commonwealth lacked the will and ability to enforce the Murray Darling Basin Plan when it is finally developed.

"The revelations yesterday of water agreement violations on the Paroo River must force people to question whether the Commonwealth will ever stand up to the states to enforce the Basin Plan," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

These new developments impact directly on two internationally listed Rasmar wetlands – the Currawinya Lakes and the Paroo-Darling Ramsar site – which are a Commonwealth responsibility and are supposedly protected under the EPBC Act.

"What hope has the Basin got if we cannot protect the Paroo – the last free-flowing river in the Murray Darling– despite the 2001 moratorium, the 2003 Paroo River Agreement, and the 2006 Resource Operations Plan … all in place to supposedly stop new developments?" she asked.

"If this sort of thing can still keep happening, then clearly we do not have strong enough monitoring or action from the Commonwealth to ensure that the values of these areas are protected," said Senator Siewert.

"How is it that this development has been allowed to continue unchecked since 2001?"

"I am astounded that this situation has been allowed to develop and continue without the Commonwealth's knowledge or intervention."

"When the Basin Plan is fully in place, what is the Commonwealth actually going to do to ensure the cap is enforced, given the appalling track record of states like Qld and NSW?" she asked.

"My question is – what action is the Commonwealth going to take, to not only address this particular river, but also to address similar problems across the northern basin?"

"The Greens are calling for a full analysis of the building of new dams, levee banks and diversion channels across the northern basin. Professor Kingsford should be asked to do extend his analysis across this area," concluded Senator Siewert.

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