The government has just blocked a motion in the NSW Legislative Council calling on the NSW Government to protect the Richmond River, demonstrating its complete disregard for the health of a river which is the lifeblood of the Northern Rivers community, said Greens MLC and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann.
“If the Nationals were serious about their commitment to supporting regional areas, they would be using their positions of power to protect vital systems like the Richmond River,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“The farmers and primary industries of the future need us to fight for their water rights today. Tomorrow is too late when this river has been in decline for years.
“What’s particularly disappointing is that the Nationals candidate for Ballina, Ben Franklin, who talks big about the Richmond river did not support a motion calling on the government to act.
The Richmond River is heavily used for irrigation of pastures and supplying dams with a reliable source of water in dry times.
Ms. Faehrmann also said, “The Richmond River once supported a healthy ecosystem including a robust oyster population. These animals once provided income and sustenance to European settlements as well as the Nyangbal people of the Bundjalung Nation.
“The Richmond River oyster industry is now dead, despite expensive attempts at reviving it, because the oysters cannot survive the polluted waters that government mismanagement have created.
“Our catchment areas deserve proper governance and our regional communities deserve to be listened to. Today the Nationals have shown their incapacity to do this, once again,” said Ms. Faehrmann.
Full text of the motion:
Ms Faehrmann to move—
- That this House notes that a recent environmental assessment of River and Estuarine Condition conducted by the University of New England graded the Richmond River in northern New South Wales as D minus, the second lowest grade possible and found that:
- despite the upper reaches of the system having better water quality, there is no improvement in riparian or catchment conditions, and
- the lack of a formal organisation in coordinating the health of the Richmond River has caused inaction and is exacerbating the concerns for both agriculture and the environment.
- This House calls on the Government to:
- respond to this assessment by working with existing community action groups such as Landcare to address the lack of governance structure for the Richmond River, and
- invest in infrastructure and regulate to improve the water quality and flow of the Richmond River.
Ms Faehrmann is available for interview
Ben Cronly 0487 247 960