Tuesday, 14 December 2010

What the Clarence Valley is telling the new House Regional Australia Committee inquiry

Reported in The Daily Examiner on 14 December 2010:

With less than a week to go before submissions close for the inquiry into the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on Regional Australia, Clarence Valley environment groups are ensuring their voices are heard.

Clarence Environment Centre and Valley Watch Inc have both made submissions to the inquiry, which was set up to examine the human impact of the proposed Murray Darling Basin plan.

Of concern to both groups – as well as many others in the Clarence Valley – is the on-going call from some outside of the Valley to divert water from the Clarence River.

One Clarence Valley submission to the Australian Parliament House of Representatives Regional Australia Committee Inquiry into impacts of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on Regional Australia talking about some of the unrealistic expectations which have been expressed this century:

When Malcolm Turnbull announced a feasibility study for the transfer of water from the Clarence to South East Queensland in early 2007, the Bourke Cobar, and South Australian Alexandrina Councils immediately launched their individual bids for a million megalitres per year, and 1.3 million megalitres respectively, to be diverted from the Clarence River.

So called facts and figures, and various methods to achieve the desired ends, were bandied about by everyone who had an opinion, regardless of their qualifications. Sydney Shock Jock, Alan Jones, led the charge for three days (that's as long as any one issue catches his attention), using the usual scientific measure of water in terms of 'Sydney Harbours' , “going to waste” out through the heads each day. One engineering firm claimed the entire transfer could be achieved by damming the river, and simply running the water downhill through a 20km tunnel with no pumping required.

What is evident in submissions received by the Committee from the Clarence Valley to date is the remarkable level of patience displayed in the face of yet another round of emotive calls by individuals and organisations in the Murray-Darling Basin to let them raid Clarence catchment fresh water and blithely ruin that coastal river system.

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