The last couple of weeks have tested many of us.
Anyone who saw and heard the image on social media of Independent MP Jeremy Buckingham, vomiting off screen as he described the masses of dead fish at Menindee on the Darling River, will agree that it will be impossible to forget that sound for a long, long time, or in fact the sight of all of those dead fish and imagining a smell to match the image.
It was with feelings of guilt that I looked on those images of hundreds and hundreds of stinking dead fish floating, bloated in the sun, asking ‘how could we let this happen?’
The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) review of the plan’s administration in 2017, handed down a scathing assessment. It found poor levels of compliance, striking variation in enforcement activity, and a lack of transparency around the management reflecting a ‘closed culture’.
The Murray Darling Basin Royal Commission set up by the former South Australian Government in response to the MDBA review findings, handed down its report on 31 January.
Blaming Commonwealth officials for maladministration, it accused the original architects of the plan of being driven by ‘politics rather than science’.
It found the original plan ignored the potentially “catastrophic” risks of climate change.
It made 44 recommendations.
The Murray Darling Association (MDA) met early this month in an historic display of unity. It was the first time in the associations’ 75 year history that all 12 regions were represented.
This was taken as a demonstration of unity and commitment to ensure local government is directly involved in the Basin plan.
Meanwhile, Townsville has had another once in a 100 year flood, its second in 21 years. As most of the floodwaters recede back to the ocean we ask how could it be harnessed, put to use where it’s needed.
If Gough Whitlam’s Minerals and Energy Minister, Rex Connor, a true visionary, had been savvier we’d be piping the monsoonal rains from the north down through the centre, to the south where it is needed. Instead its still just a pipedream.