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I'm writing to you as my local candidate to ask what you will commit for the protection of the Kimberley in the upcoming state election.
The Kimberley is home to many world class natural and cultural assets – the mighty Fitzroy river among these. It has been National Heritage Listed for its outstanding value to our nation. However, it is threatened by industry proposals to take life-giving floodwaters to create a new broad-acre irrigation industry on the sensitive floodplains. This is despite numerous studies showing poor economic outlook and large environmental impacts. There are much better alternatives for economic development, supported by scientists, Traditional Owners, recreational fishers and the broader community.
We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to protect the Fitzroy river. Current plans for new national parks and a 'no dams' policy are an excellent start, but I want to see the river preserved and protected in the long term. We need to move beyond simple water extraction thinking and ensure legally binding protection for the flows and floodplains of the river. This needs to work in harmony with continued community and pastoral use and protect against industrial scale irrigation projects.
It’s important that the Traditional Owners of the Fitzroy River are genuinely involved in the co-design of protections and management of the river and its catchment area. This will ensure an ongoing successful social and economic development and greatly benefit the welfare of the people who are connected to the river system.
I am also concerned about the ongoing protection of the Kimberley coast and marine environments. It’s been great to see a genuine bipartisan commitment to the Great Kimberley Marine Park for the past decade. The next step is the Buccaneer Archipelago Marine Park – which in its current draft plan represents Western Australia’s first co-designed marine park with Traditional Owners. This marine park will protect important coral, mangrove and seagrass habitats whilst also helping to mitigate the impacts of the newly sealed Cape Leveque Road on the communities who live on the Dampier Peninsula.
I call upon you and your party to outline your plans to ensure the protection of the Fitzroy River, the Buccaneer Archipelago and the Kimberley’s stunning natural environment. I look forward to your reply.