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Perrottet Government signs death warrant for inland rivers

Media Release  

3 February 2023 

The controversial regulation to legalise the diversion of billions of litres of water from NSW’s inland rivers with floodplain harvesting levees has been gazetted today. These are essentially the same regulations that have been previously disallowed by the Upper House a historic four times.  

Thousands of kilometers of levee banks, or water barricades, choke the floodplains of NSW Murray-Darling Basin, diverting environmentally critical flood waters and rainfall runoff into private dams.  

Nature Conservation Council (NCC) Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Mumford says these levees starve rivers and wetlands of the critically important medium sized floods that keep the system going in between the big flood years.  

“It’s clear that the Perrottet Government is under the spell of big corporate irrigators. Why else would it ignore the fact that this disastrous regulation has been disallowed in the Upper House more than any other piece of legislation? 

“Licencing such huge volumes of floodplain harvesting water, and legislating obscenely generous rules is locking in the rapid downward spiral of the iconic Darling-Baaka River and our internationally recognised wetlands. These rules allow accounts to accrue to 500% of the licence volumes. The approach is completely unsustainable." Ms Mumford said. 

NCC supports the licencing and regulation of floodplain harvesting, however the volumes and rules proposed by the current Liberal/National Coalition are not aligned with the laws of the state. 

Ms Mumford said “The Government’s own Environment and Heritage Department has said that the proposed in-catchment targets are probably too low to protect key environmental assets in extreme dry periods, and likely do not support the water management principles of the Water Management Act 2000. 

“The environmental, cultural, social and economic future of inland NSW depends completely on the health of our rivers and wetlands. Licencing flood waters at these volumes won't allow river ecosystems to survive. They also ignore a very clear message provided to the Perrottet Coalition Government a record four times already; the community expects more than a death sentence for the rivers.  

“The Coalition is ignoring the repeated decisions of the Upper House, disregarding the democratic process. The Perrottet Government has just doomed the inland rivers. It's extremely disappointing.”  

Contact Mel Gray: 0431 471 310   

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