House debates

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Statements by Members

Murray-Darling Basin

10:12 am

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

Due to a lack of planes, I drove to parliament for this sitting. My road trip took me from the end of the River Murray in my electorate and I crisscrossed the river across the Hay Plains. The landscape is greener than the last time I made the trip, and my questions about the management of the Murray-Darling river system remain. The same questions are raised time and again by the people of Mayo and all South Australians.

Today, I would like to table for the parliament a book of questions put together by a school in my electorate whose year 6-7 class spent a whole year doing an in-depth study on the Murray-Darling Basin. Last month, Fletcher Griffin, representing Stirling East Primary School, came to my office and officially presented me with Murray-Darling Basin calling: questions unanswered. I visited the class last year while they were conducting their inquiry and I believe that these students would know more about the Murray and the problems of this system than many adult Australians. Even with that knowledge, they really struggled to understand how, as adults, we cannot learn to share when sharing is a lesson you have to master in order to grow up. These young people want to know where the water is going and why we cannot manage such a critical system for everyone. I want to know the answers. I have the same questions.

We know from Mick Keelty's inquiry that the amount of water flowing into the Murray River over the past 20 years has, indeed, halved, showing that, even with the best of management, the impact of climate change cannot be ignored. So, when I drive along the Hay Plains and see the balls of cotton drifting on the roadside and the open channels and the mega storage stands, I find myself asking the very same questions that Fletcher and his classmates ask: how do you run a country with no water; what happens to the farmers once the river dries up; how will our towns and our cities survive; and how will our environment survive? As the northern states continue their pressure for the relaxation of environmental water allocations, I and my Centre Alliance colleagues in the Senate are determined to keep the parliament focused on the sound management of the Murray-Darling Plan. I seek leave to table Murray-Darling Basin calling: questions unanswered.

Leave granted.