House debates

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Statements by Members

Murray-Darling Basin

1:53 pm

Photo of Damian DrumDamian Drum (Nicholls, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This morning a long-awaited report into the Lower Lakes by the CSIRO was published. The need to have the origins of Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina investigated was necessary due to earlier scientific work by Professor Peter Gell being altered, albeit slightly, in wording, but quite significantly in its historical classification as either fresh water, estuarine or predominantly sea water. I understand that Professor Gell still has concerns about the recommendations in this report. The classification of the Lower Lakes is critical to the future of the 2½ million Australians who live up and down the entire Murray-Darling Basin. Currently enormous quantities of water are required to flow past Wellington in South Australia to make its way into the Lower Lakes. Some of this water finds its way into the Coorong, and then a large amount of this water finds its way out to sea. However, it is estimated that between 800 and 900 gigalitres—that is, 800 to 900 thousand million litres of fresh water—simply evaporate in the Lower Lakes every year. These Australians understand the value of this evaporated water at around $480 million every year. They understand that if this were made available to the agricultural sector it would see this nearly half a billion dollars multiplied many times over with the growth of so much agricultural produce. This report does not give the agricultural sector the result it was looking for. However, until we see a complete restructure of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority this imbalance of water management, skewed to the environment over agriculture, will continue into the foreseeable future.