Government Asleep as River goes into Cardiac Arrest: New Mass Fish Death Event Confirms the Darling River is Dying

7 January 2019

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick has called on the Federal Government to step in and ensure that water from recent rains in Queensland is used to deal with the environmental emergency occurring in northern NSW and the Lower Darling.

"The Darling River is going into cardiac arrest and both the Federal and NSW Governments are asleep at the wheel of the ambulance," said Rex.

The call comes after it emerged that a second mass fish death has occurred in the Lower Darling. "I'm receiving reports of tens of thousands of fish having been found upended in the river or dead along the river banks," said Rex. "This is the second instance of mass fish deaths in a month, the first event occurring just before Christmas."

"Walgett in NSW has run out of river sourced drinking water. The Menindee Lakes are about to dry up. I drove from Menindee to Wentworth over the weekend before Christmas in response to the first mass fish death incident and saw firsthand a Darling River in crisis. Now we have a second mass fish death event occurring with the NSW Government, Federal Minister Littleproud and the Murray Darling Basin Authority doing little or nothing in response. It's totally unacceptable."

The Lower Darling supports one of the most robust populations of Murray cod in the Murray Basin. Recent evidence has demonstrated that fish spawned in the Darling system comprise a significant proportion of populations right across the southern Basin, including South Australia.

"With less than 250ML per day flowing over Weir 32 there must be no water flowing from the Darling River into the Murray. The Darling River, a river that is crucial for river flow through the Murray mouth and into the Coorong, is dying and the Government is simply not acting."

"Water from the recent rains in Queensland must be allowed to flow down the river system to meet basic needs of humans and livestock and to reverse the environmental destruction that is occurring. These essential needs must have priority over irrigators, in particular large scale cotton growers who use a significant amount of water to ship product offshore to the benefit of overseas interests."

"The Government cannot ignore what is going on. The river is stagnant, the Government can't be.”

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