Basin Plan deal means progress for First Nations, but a backward step for the environment
The peak body of Traditional Owners in the Southern Murray Darling Basin has described an agreement struck yesterday between the Federal Government and the Australia Labor Party as a positive step towards recognition of Aboriginal water rights, but a backward step for the iconic ecosystems of the Murray-Darling Basin.
An agreement announced last night, by ALP Shadow Minister for Water Tony Bourke, includes commitments to a roll-out of Cultural Flows research and an allocation of $40 million across the Basin to support acquisition of Aboriginal cultural and economic water entitlements.
‘The Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations welcomes the Government’s commitment to a package of funding and measures to improve outcomes for Aboriginal people in the Basin,’ MLDRIN Acting Chair Grant Rigney said.
‘Unfortunately, cutting 605 billion litres from the water recovery target in the Basin risks undermining some of the very outcomes the package seeks to protect.’
Commitment long overdue
‘Funding for our organisations to start the vital work of implementing Cultural Flows research, and an investment to support First Nations acquisition of water entitlements are valuable steps toward water justice,’ Grant Rigney said.
‘This is long overdue, bipartisan recognition of First Nation’s rights to own and manage water on our Country. We will be seeking immediate clarification from the government about the delivery of this funding package.’
‘Sadly, this same agreement locks in a major cut to environmental water in the Basin and a package of infrastructure projects that are riddled with risks and uncertainties. This agreement represents a further step away from a meaningful water recovery target, which the science shows is essential to restore our greatest river system to health,’ Grant Rigney said.
‘MLDRIN will remain vigilant to ensure projects are rigorously scrutinised and that our member’s cultural heritage is protected.’