The Federal Water Minister must force the NSW and QLD Governments to urgently invoke their powers and embargo the cotton industry’s water extraction from the Murray Darling Basin after widespread fish deaths, the Greens say.
“The Federal Water Minister must intervene and force an embargo on water extraction for cotton irrigation as a matter of urgency. The Federal and State Governments must act to stop over extraction, and lift the freeze on environmental water buybacks,” Greens environment and water spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
“We need an emergency intervention to the unfolding ecological disaster in our river system. The NSW and QLD Water Ministers must use their emergency powers to embargo further water take for cotton irrigation.
“The Liberal National Party is trying to blame this on drought when in fact it is cotton, corruption and climate change killing these fish and our river. We should be putting people and the environment before big corporate cotton growers.
“Greedy cotton farmers upstream are still storing water and irrigating their crops. We are watching this river die along with the hundreds of thousands of fish floating along the banks of the lower Darling.
“There was a 1,000km algal bloom in 1991 and we did not see mass fish death at this scale. This is the clearest demonstration of what happens when a political culture of robbing the environment for corporate interests goes unchecked.
“We are spending $13 billion on the Murray Darling Basin Plan and it has failed at the first drought. This is the consequence of terrible mismanagement by all levels of government.
“Rivers die from the bottom up. The Coorong is dying, the Lower Darling is in the midst of ecological collapse. Our river won’t survive if we continue putting corporate irrigators above all else.
“The Murray Darling river system is the lifeblood of communities, from QLD to SA, and for too long governments have prioritised their big cotton grower mates over the environment and the communities who rely on the river to survive.
“There must be an immediate embargo on water extraction on the river if we are to have any hope of making positive steps in managing this precious resource.”