Snowy River Alliance has called on the Victorian Coalition Government to honour the requirements and intent of the Snowy legislation regarding the establishment of an independent Snowy Scientific Committee and has expressed grave concerns regarding the lack of due process.
The Snowy Scientific Committee (SSC) is the key independent scientific body required by legislation to advise on Snowy River environmental flows. The Committee’s first three-year term expired in May 2011.
Victoria nominates two representatives to the six-member panel, which is established by the NSW Government. According to the legislation, one of the Victorian nominees is to represent the Snowy River environmental interest groups. However so far the Victorian Minister for Water Peter Walsh has ignored any input from the Snowy River community and environmental interest groups.
“The environmental interest groups representative on the Snowy Scientific Committee plays a key role in representing the Snowy River communities who campaigned for many years to return water to the Snowy River in the first place,” said Mr. John Gallard Chair of Snowy River Alliance.
“So far, the Victorian Government has failed abysmally to consult with the relevant Snowy River interest groups, including Snowy River Alliance, the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, Environment Victoria, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Gippsland Environment Group and Dalgety and District Community Association.”
“At a meeting of the Snowy River Alliance in Bombala yesterday, Victorian and NSW members were deeply concerned at the lack of due process that has been undertaken,” said Mr Gallard. “It appears that the Victorian Minister for Water is deliberately excluding the local Snowy River communities from having a voice on the Snowy Scientific Committee despite that being a requirement and the intent of the legislation.”
“Snowy River Alliance has taken the matter to Tim Bull MP, local Nationals member for East Gippsland, to advocate on our behalf with the Minister but unfortunately we still haven’t received a satisfactory response,” said Mr Gallard.
“Should the Victorian Government nominate someone to the Snowy Scientific Committee without the support and endorsement of the key Snowy River environmental interest groups then unavoidably that person will be seen as a political appointee, no matter how qualified.”
“The Victorian Government must consult with all the relevant Snowy River environmental interest groups including Snowy River Alliance and the Gunaikurnai native title-holders if it wishes to ensure community confidence in the complete independence of the Snowy Scientific Committee,” concluded Mr. Gallard.