The Australian Greens have denounced approval by the Prime Minister of the proposed sale by Queensland of 8 billion litres of water from the Murray Darling system as "total hypocrisy."
"The Howard government proposes to spend $3 Billion buying back existing water allocations, yet it has given the go ahead to the Beattie government to sell a huge amount of water from the Warrego River to start up new irrigation scheme," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"We are devoting significant time and resources to tackling the problem of over-allocation within the Murray Darling basin. The last thing we should be doing is taking more water out of the system before CSIRO has had time to complete its study of sustainable extraction levels," she said.
The Warrego River flows into a number of wetlands including the Yantabulla Swamp which has been nominated for National Heritage listing, and the Cuttaburra Basin which is one of the few untouched floodplains. These feed into the Nocoleche Nature Reserve which flows into the Paroo River and on into the Murray Darling system. These wetlands host a number of endangered and vulnerable species including the Freckled Duck, the Australian Bustard and the Brolga.
The Warrego is one of the few remaining rivers flowing into the Murray Darling system which has remained relatively untouched by extraction or floodplain harvesting for irrigation.
"If the Prime Minister is serious about tackling over-allocation and helping both the communities and the ecosystems of the Murray Darling cope with a drying climate, then he must call for a moratorium on all new developments and extractions until the sustainability audit has been completed," concluded Senator Siewert.