Premier John Brumby recently rejected draft recommendations by the Victorian Environment Assessment Council (VEAC) to flood the Murray with billions of litres of water to save the majestic River Red Gums. According to a leaked copy of the most comprehensive analysis of Murray River Red Gums undertaken, 54% of the forest is in a “deteriorating state’, while 16% is rated as “poor to dead’.
Kevin Rudd has backed John Howard’s pledge to spend $10 billion to return water to the Murray-Darling Basin, but will only spend 5% in the next parliamentary term. That comes down to $170 million a year – or about the same money as Australians put on horses at the Melbourne Cup in 2007.
ACF’s Paul Sinclair said that the Murray is a “world’s best practice environmental disaster unfolding before our eyes” and the country’s leaders are refusing to do what’s needed to save the river.
The Murray-Darling Basin Commission had returned some flows to Hattah Lakes but the drought was taking its toll. This year might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
VEAC’s draft recommendations in July suggested that dying red gums be saved through the creation of four national parks, reducing logging, and putting back 4000 billion litres of water every five years. Mr Brumby said the Government would look to a “balanced outcome” but rejected the water recommendations. That doesn’t sound terribly balanced.
Environment Minister Gavin Jennings’ office said $600 million had been invested in Victoria’s environment since 2002, a bit more than a $100 million a year. Not a lot when you put that up against government advertising.
Jill / The Age