The new South Australian Liberal Government is being encouraged to ‘come to the table’ and work towards water policy solutions that benefit the entire nation.
There are calls for an end to an obstructionist and exclusive attitude that has plagued development of effective water policy.
Speak Up Campaign chair Shelley Scoullar said implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has been hampered by the attitude of the former SA Labor Government.
“It has refused to look at its localised solutions that have the potential to ensure Australia has a more balanced and practical Basin Plan.
“At no stage has South Australia tried to be part of collaborated efforts to achieve the results that our nation wants. The new SA government has the opportunity to change that by working with the other states to put in place steps that contribute to a sustainable and balanced Basin Plan, which can be achieved,” Mrs Scoullar said.
She added at the top of the list to be investigated should be ‘end of system’ infrastructure works that could reduce evaporation and make better use of available water.
Work could also be undertaken on the south-east drainage scheme to return flows to the Coorong, and there should be an acceptance that the Lower Lakes was once an estuarine system, so we should stop trying to invent a freshwater solution to their environmental problems.
Mrs Scoullar said since the start of the water reform process in the 1990s, water has been removed from upstream productive use and eventually finds its way to South Australia. However, in the process we have decimated some upstream communities, flooded public and private land, increased river bank slumping and distorted the water market.
All this is being done to create an artificial freshwater environment in the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth.
“Environmental issues in this region have been exacerbated because historically South Australia has converted wetlands and swamps into prime agricultural land.
“There should be money available under the Basin Plan to thoroughly investigate how the South Australian environment can be restored, without it coming at a massive cost to upstream communities and our nation as a whole.
“Concerns are already being expressed about the potential for fresh food shortages in capital cities because too much agricultural land is being developed for other purposes.
“If we do not start protecting food and fibre production in the Murray-Darling Basin, which is Australia’s food bowl, we risk a serious national issue.
“Speak Up believes the time is right for South Australia to bring a fresh, cooperative approach to the table so we can develop a Basin Plan that balances our social, economic and environmental needs,” Mrs Scoullar said.
For further information or interviews: Shelley Scoullar phone 0414 960 785 or email [email protected]