Save the Murray River lakes

Coorong tragedy was avoidable: Greens Senator Siewert

Oz Government in opposition ignored Senate's urgent advice about saving the lower Murray in South Australia two years ago.
(Greens Tuesday 12th August 2008)

"The environmental destruction of the Coorong is a tragedy that did not need to happen," said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"The drastic decline of these internationally significant wetlands could have been prevented if either of our Environment Ministers had acted in a timely and sensible fashion."

A 2006 report on the dire state of the Coorong did not go unheeded by the Senate, which backed the Greens in calling for an urgent review of the management of Australia's 64 Ramsar listed wetlands.

Senator Rachel Siewert spoke at length at the time on the particular threats to the Coorong, the Gwydir and the Macquarie Marshes, and has continued to pursue both the Howard and Rudd Governments in Senate Estimates over when this review would be completed and the results made public.

"By failing to act, former Ministers Ian Campbell and Malcolm Turnbull and our current Environment Minister, Peter Garrett have all failed in their responsibilities to the international community, to the Australian
people and to the environment," she said.

"The Coorong and these other critically threatened wetlands could have been Montreaux listed, and the Commonwealth's powers under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act evoked to
ensure environmental water was delivered," concluded Senator Siewert.

The Greens are calling on Peter Garrett, Minister for the Environment, to act immediately to secure water for the Coorong, to report on the findings to date of the Ramsar review, and to release details of the health, management and recovery plans for our threatened Ramsar wetlands.

Here's a new singer with a message about the MDB

(Source: "Warning bells on the Murray did not go unheeded," Greens media release Tuesday 12th August 2008)

For more information or comment call Chris Twomey on 0407 725 025 Email [email protected]

Keep fighting for the Murray Darling in spite of our Government

What's in a title?
Just because the Federal Government calls South Australian Senator, Penny Wong, Australia's "Minister for the Water amd Climate Change," does that necessarily mean that she is really there for the environment?

The other Environment Minister, Peter Garratt, hasn't been there to save Port Melbourne's marine environment. It seems like, with two Federal environment ministers, Australia is just trashing nature faster, and setting the rest of us up for the four horsemen.

All over Australia, concerned citizens are trying to warn, educate and activate their fellow citizens because they simply cannot rely on the government to do it.
Let us not be too naive. People need to remember that governments do not save the environment or conserve national treasures; it is always people who force conservation.

Governments just step in afterwards and link their names to a popular success.

Bearing this in mind there is a great deal of reason for Australians everywhere to keep on fighting for the Murray Darling River so that the government finds it too difficult to maintain the strongholds of the big end of town, big users, corporates, and irrigators with impressive short-term cash-flows, on the MDB.

But now some of those big users say they are ready to swap water for cash.

In an announcement which shocked Australians, on 6th August 2008, Penny Wong declared that the government would not take water from higher up to save South Australia's Lower Lakes (Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert.)

Yesterday, 11 Aug 2008, about 5000 people (an extraordinary turn-out for South Australia) came to Goolwa at the Mouth of the Murray and booed the name of Penny Wong and Premier Mike Rann, in their absence. John Coombe, Alexandrina Council chief executive, stated that there are more than 5000 gigalitres still stored upstream, and he called for at least 250 gigalitres to be sent down the Murray. Apparently recognising that our economy relies on the environment, he called for a better performance on the issue from leaders, first for the river and the environment and then for communities and business.

Adelaide ecologist David Paton said that a permanent larger flow is needed.

The Australian that Adelaide ecologist, David Paton, said, "The recent (Council of Australian Governments- COAG) agreement had {...}simply put off the decisions until 2018." He indicated that a permanent larger flow was needed.

Not enough water has been left by agriculture and towns to permit the river to keep functioning. This is one hell of a statement about modern economics, government and technology; it seems that our government and economists have vastly overestimated this continent's capacity for abuse; they cannot blame incipient climate change for all of this.

Why did Karlene Maywald conceal surrender in fight to save Coorong from Goolwa meeting?

See also: of 1 Aug 08, of 10 Aug 08

Maywald should have told Goolwa meeting about Weir

Media release of 5 Aug 08 from Mark Parnell, Greens member of the South Australian Legislative Council.

Minister should have told last night's River Murray meeting in Goolwa that work will begin shortly on the Wellington Weir, says Greens MLC Mark Parnell.

This morning, the Minister for Water Security revealed on ABC Radio that Cabinet last week had signed off on $30 million worth of preparatory work on the Weir at Wellington, but did not mention it at a major community briefing last night which Mark Parnell attended.

"Last night, there were 300 people in Goolwa talking to Minister Maywald about the future of the Lower Lakes and Coorong, yet she didn't see fit to mention to us that the Government had already agreed to begin work on the Wellington Weir," said Mr Parnell.

"Surely we had a right to know. What's the point in talking about more fresh water flows down the Murray when Cabinet has already given up on that idea?

"Last night, I asked Karlene Maywald if the Government had "given up" on achieving sufficient freshwater flows to keep the Lower lakes and Coorong alive. She replied: "absolutely not". Yet, how can she reconcile that with the Cabinet decision last week to approve spending $30million to start construction of the Wellington Weir?

"Make no mistake: the Wellington Weir will irreversibly destroy the Lower Lakes as a freshwater environment. With the risk of acidification if the Lakes are allowed to dry out, the prospect of flooding the Lakes with seawater then becomes inevitable.

"Such an outcome would prove beyond doubt what an absolute failure present and past Governments both Labor and Liberal have been at protecting the Murray.

"To actively plan the death of the terminus of our continent's major river is a criminal act.

"The Greens have not given up on the Lower Lakes and we once again call on the Federal Government to immediately buy back water and send it down the River," he said.

For further comment contact Craig Wilkins on 0434 007 893

Appendix: Excerpt from

Originally in on 10 Aug 08

... the state Water Security Minister (was) selectively cautious with her words, bordering on being deceitful. Her lack of vital information at a Goolwa community meeting this week was atrocious.

The next day Karlene Maywald finally let the wildly-scratching cat out of the bag. In a very matter-of-fact way she announced that $30 million had been approved to start serious site work on the Wellington Weir, which hasn't yet been given the final go-ahead, because she says it mightn't ever be built.

Yeah, right.

You would have thought that such ominous news might have been passed on to the 300 Goolwa people whose lifestyles and livelihoods are hanging in the balance.

So why did it have such an unpleasant odour? After having dodged a large protest rally in the city last week, due to commitments in her own Riverland electorate, the Minister was quite forceful in defending any suggestions that she was gutless.

That criticism was levelled by her opponents and even some of her Riverland brethren who'd travelled to town to ask questions, get some answers or at the very least some future direction.

But the Minister claimed she wasn't gutless because she'd already planned to travel the river's length for the rest of the week addressing community concerns. In itself that's commendable, but surely it's the very least she should be doing as the Minister in charge of the crisis.

With Cabinet having recently agreed to spend tens of millions of dollars on the work which now seems likely to be a permanent structure across the once-mighty Murray, the Minister should have told that to the Goolwa meeting.

See also:  Minister Karlene Maywald 'too busy' for Save the Murray rally of 1 Aug 08