COAG communiqué fails the Murray

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting today has completely failed to address the crisis in South Australia’s Lower Lakes and Coorong, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

“The States and the Commonwealth have comprehensively failed to tackle the immediate ecological crisis unfolding in the Lower Lakes and the Coorong,” ACF healthy rivers campaigner Dr Arlene Buchan said.

“There is no emergency rescue package coming out of today’s meeting.

“Instead, the leaders of our country have chosen to block action that could prevent the Lower Lakes from becoming a toxic wasteland.

“In doing so, COAG may have signed a death warrant for the internationally renowned Coorong and Lower Lakes.

“The Governments should have looked at the options of buying water from willing sellers in the Darling Basin or temporarily changing rules around access to water in the Menindee Lakes.

“The Victorian Government has scuttled efforts to remove the 4 per cent cap – which is bad for the environment and bad for irrigators, because willing buyers and sellers of water are unable to trade once that cap is reached.

“With the river in such a crisis it is deeply disappointing to see the state governments, particularly Victoria, actively seeking to hold back leadership and progress, with the aim of trying to squeeze more money out of the Commonwealth.

“The national water plan is supposed to be a solution to a massive environmental and social problem, not a money bag for state governments,” she said.

ACF urges an emergency out-of-session meeting of Ministers to address the crisis happening right now in the Lower Lakes and the Coorong.