Murray-Darling plan: Indigenous nations ‘not consulted’

Fred Hooper, the chairman of the Northern Murray Darling Basin Aboriginal Nations says he’s saddened that representatives of the more than 30 nations who live in the basin were not involved in discussions which led to the Murray-Darling basin plan announced today.


Prime Minister Julia Gillard pledged an extra $1.7 billion to deliver an additional 450 billion litres, or gigalitres, to the ailing river ecosystem.

Most of the $1.77 billion will be earmarked for water recovery projects on farms instead of buying back water from irrigators, a strategy staunchly opposed by many in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Up to $200 million will be used to remove river constraints, such as low-lying bridges and undersized dam outlets, to help free the additional 450GL for the environment.

It follows a model proposed earlier in October by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

“If you’re a blackfella today you should be very disappointed in the announcement today and left out of the whole consultation process. The minister said that he spoke to the peak bodies last night. We’re a peak body. We didn’t get a call from the minister and we’re being treated like mushrooms”.

Mr Hooper has also challenged the Prime Minister to meet him to discuss cultural flows.

“It’s all about putting money into ways to save water for irrigation and there’s no money for anything such as research into cultural flows and what they mean to Aboriginal people of the Murray Darling Basin”.

Mr Hooper has called on the federal government to provide support for future projects along the system involving Indigenous Australians.

The Murray-Darling Basin plan will be funded from existing government resources and cash set aside in this week’s mid-year economic outlook.

Legislation to set up the special account for the plan is expected to be introduced to parliament by the end of the year.

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