Our Plan for the Murray Darling Basin – Senator Malcolm Roberts



If you restore the Menindee Lakes will Broken Hill take it’s water from there again?

With the $500m pipeline form, the Murray to Broken Hill completed, we suggest continuing to use that for Broken Hill critical human water, with the Menindee Pipeline as a fallback.

This increases the water available to sustain communities between Menindee and Wentworth.

What about the Overland Water Project

A: As we mentioned, there are many river systems in the basin that are parched, landlocked strings of billabongs.  This means they only connect with the MDB in times of flood. The CEWH seems to have trouble with the concept of ‘sharing’ and without due consultation, has proposed an unscientific, unprofessional grab for irrigation water for the environment (SDL acquisition). Then they want to waste that precious water by flooding it over the dry land bridge to force it into the Darling then the Murray, and ultimately into the Coorong.

This process means the CEWH planning on using water that rural communities are desperate to create a man-made flood, in a drought, to force northern water down the Murray to flush out the Coorong. We would not need to do that if we hadn’t built the drains to send Coorong’s water into the southern ocean in the first place.

One Nation will put a stop to this program.

You are spending a lot of money.

We are spending half of the remaining $6 billion in the MDB fund, and expect to be able to return the other half to taxpayers.

So the Environment does not get any more water?

Not true. The drains project will return 500 – 600GL a year on average into the MDB, which the Coorong is a part of. One Nation cannot see that the environment needs any more than that.

Remember the environmental water that was already in the basin at the start of the plan was never counted in environmental water. All that water NSW was sending into the Macquarie and Gwydir wetlands was treated as though it did not exist. However, the environment is still getting that water plus the 2082gl so far in SDL acquisitions plus another 500gl from the drains. The real figure for environmental flows is probably over 10,000GL when you include rainfall directly onto non-farm land. That is enough.

Is 500GL enough to restore the Coorong to its natural state

The Coorong only holds an average 200GL of water in total. The lower Coorong, which is now hyper-saline, holds between 80GL and 120GL depending on the time of year. 500gl is enough to restore the Coorong of Storm Boy. South Australia will benefit from the tourism and fishing that this will bring.

Explain the northern environmental water buyback

Early in the MDB acquisitions, the Government purchased 450GL in the northern basin for the environment. This water was not needed. The NSW Government at the time was already using 72% of water in the area for environmental purposes, wetlands like the Macquarie and Gwydir wetlands were already healthy.

Perhaps Water Minster Wong did not realise that the northern basin only flows into the Darling River in times of flood. Most years the northern rivers terminate in the Macquarie Marshes. That 450GL of environmental water is a stranded asset.  The CEWH is creating new wetlands just to use it up. Now they are suggesting the overland water project to flood that water over into the Darling. This will use up most of the water in seepage and evaporation and is a really bad idea.

One Nation calls on the Minister to admit their error.  It is time to cease destroying the dryland environment to create wetlands that do not exist and to restore 200GL of that water to irrigators.

Are you sure about the Lower Lakes?

We spent a great deal of time getting to the bottom of the science of the lower lakes. Studies of marine organisms and sediment cores prove the lakes were saline. However, this is not as many people think, permanently a mix of fresh and salt.

The lakes alternated between fresh and salt. The flow from the Murray/Darling kept the lakes mostly fresh. In times of extended drought, the rivers ran dry and seawater came in, causing the lower lakes to be saline. In the transition periods, the lakes had freshwater plumes on top of saltwater.

We will never restore the flow to the lakes to ensure they are 100% fresh. That would require closing down agriculture and rural communities across the basin. South Australia also uses this water, indeed Adelaide is the only capital city that takes its water from the Murray. The truth is everyone is using the water and no-one is able to give up more than they have now.

That means the lower lakes have to be put back to their natural estuarine state as a last resort in severe drought. It would be irresponsible to not plan for that should this drought, or the next one, exceed the capacity of the basin to keep the rivers flowing.

This involves building lock zero above Wellington to protect Adelaide’s water supply at all costs. We will also build an irrigation canal around the lakes drawing from lock zero, so farmers around the lakes can access irrigation water.

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