Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s failure to protect environment: the Murray-Darling basin scandal:

The Murray-Darling basin scandal: a symptom of how we fail to protect our environment, Guardian ,  Suzanne Milthorpe, 29 July 17  Only an independent watchdog can sort out the current impenetrable soup of federal, state and local bodies that make up environmental governance Suzanne Milthorpe is National Nature Campaign Manager with The Wilderness Society Australia It turns out that the only drop to drink in the Murray-Darling basin is in private irrigation channels surrounding NSW’s Barwon River. But the scandal unfolding there is not an isolated failure in the system, but a symptom of something much more fundamentally wrong with how we protect our environment. And it’s time for the Australian government to lead us in a national plan to fix this.

The community was rightly shocked this week by allegations of widespread water theft, meter tampering and what looks very much like corrupt dealings between public servants, politicians and certain irrigators in the Murray Darling basin.

People from southern NSW to South Australia are wondering how in the hell wrongdoing at this scale could go undetected and unchecked for so long. How could a multi-billion dollar program, overseen by the federal government, the NSW government, local governments and the Murray Darling Basin Authority, fail to catch such widespread problems? In response to the allegations, downstream users and political leaders are calling for independent inquiries and new independent bodies to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

That’s fair. From the 2014 Icac coal scandals in NSW, government-run clearing of threatened species in Perth’s Beeliar wetlands and the continued logging of Leadbeater’s possum habitat, despite years of federal and state recovery plans, the need for an independent watchdog for our environment and our communities has long been evident.

But what’s being lost in the furore over the Murray-Darling is that this problem is much bigger than the potential corruption in the system. This is just the latest in a long line of similar failures in our system of environmental protection and governance…….

the 2014 Icac coal scandals in NSW…..

clearing of tens of thousands of hectares of koala habitat and logging of old growth forests full of wildlife. …..

the Great Barrier Reef…..

As with the Murray-Darling, our greatest natural assets are caught between self-interested state governments desperately holding on to a mantra of “jobs and growth equals votes” and an utterly disinterested Australian government that is trying its best to rid itself of its responsibilities. The system is broken and needs a complete overhaul. We need a national plan to protect our environment, we need a strong and independent watchdog, a national EPA, with teeth to deliver the plan and we need governments of all levels to stop the buck passing and get on with the job.

It’s time for the Australian government to step up and lead the country in a national environment plan that coordinates the states and territories in a truly national effort to protect the environment. Because the simple truth is that without fundamental change, these scandals will keep happening. Threatened species will face extinction. The Reef will continue to suffocate under tonnes of soil. And our environment and our communities will continue to suffer for years to come.


July 29, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: