20 May 2003

the Murray's chance of survival: moderate, maybe
There's a good article at Public Opinion linking to an article on the ACF website:

The Australian Conservation Foundation has expressed deep concern about a static core environment budget and cuts to salinity expenditure in the federal budget.

ACF Executive Director Don Henry said, "The Prime Minister had promised that salinity, tree clearing and water were priorities for the next 12 months. But this budget contains no additional commitments, instead we're seeing cuts and little progress in these critical areas."

"The core environmental budget has stayed static, right at the time when Australia's growing extinction crisis demands increased funding for threatened plants and animals, climate change and the Murray Darling River system."

"The recently leaked government report, the Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment talks starkly of an extinction crisis sweeping Australia, which has the world's worst mammal extinction rate. The report declared that a 'significant increase in funding was necessary to achieve effective biodiversity conservation outcomes'."

"And yet this year's budget cuts salinity funding by $63 million over two years and provides no additional money to address tree clearing," said Henry.

"Later this year Federal and State ministers will meet to decide whether to rescue our great Murray Darling river-system. This requires an immediate allocation of $50 million from the federal government."

"But this budget is as dry as a dead river bed, for the Murray Darling. Instead of rescuing the Murray, the government is leaving it endangered and on life support."

The saddest comment is from the government's own mouth. Read The living Murray from the Murray-Darling Basin initiative. The initiative sets up 3 reference points:

Reference Points - Average amount of extra water provided to the River Murray environment
350 GL a year
750 GL a year
1500 GL a year

The initiative estimates 10 years to implement the first 2 options and 15 for the thirds.

The initiative estimates the' likelihood of a healthy working river from an ecological perspective' at Low for the first option, Low to Moderate for the second option and only Moderate if we add 1500 gigalitres of environmental flow. So the best outcome from the most radical proposal the basin authorities are considering is a Moderate chance of success.

Read it and weep. Your tears might help. If they're not too saline.

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