Restoring Murray River communities' confidence (letter)by Daryl McDonaldNews Weekly
, July 3, 2004
Congratulation to Wendy Craik on her appointment as CEO of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (MDBC). Hopefully, her taking over the reins will see the Commission head in a more pragmatic, less political direction.
Dr Craik has much to do. The Living Murray Initiative has been left floundering around in the hands of our COAG chiefs, with political expediency directing the outcomes, rather than real river health priorities of the Murray.
The MDBC has consistently failed to deliver on its promises of consultation and reports vital to that process.
The much trumpeted "overwhelming scientific evidence" by Professor Gary Jones and the Scientific Reference Panel amounted to 162 pages of twaddle, in which it is likely that at least 80% of the "modelling" is statistically invalid.
The year-late socioeconomic assessment is still being massaged to make it fit for release. Little wonder the Parliamentary Standing Committee called for time out on the Living Murray. The logical steps to get the process back on the rails would include:
- Immediate acknowledgement of the findings of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry.
- Release of the socio-economic report.
- The commissioning of up-to-date scientific report on the real, current state of the Murray's health, measured against known, not hypothetical benchmarks. An obvious reference point would be when diversions were some 1500 GL less than current (around 20 years ago) as this would provide a tangible insight into the effect of changed flow / volume in a time when real, not "modelled", data exists.
Somewhat simplistic, but such an analysis would have more relevance than comparisons with hypothetical "pristine" conditions.
The above process must include:
- A scientist of the river communities' choosing.
- Prioritising of remedial health measures identified in terms of cost / benefit.
- An appropriate period of community consultation to analyse and digest the real knowledge gained from the above process.
Only when the above steps have been fully addressed will the Commission be in the position of having restored the communities confidence in the Living Murray to the degree necessary to make the initiative work effectively.Daryl McDonald,
Murray Valley Water Diverters Advisory Association,