The McGowan Government has agreed to consider protecting the Fitzroy River's surface waters and floodplains.
The breakthrough came at a public forum in Fitzroy Crossing where the Minister for Water announced that a proposed buffer zone would become part of the upcoming consultations on the future of the river.
The proposal came from the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council who represent Traditional Owner groups from the catchment. The Martuwarra Council proposed a buffer zone that would stop irrigators taking water from the river and floodplains.
The Council also expressed their concerns about a recent proposal to take very large volumes of water directly from the river for irrigation.
“The buffer zone is about a sustainable water development approach and changing the conversation from being about what we can take from the river, to first discussing what we need to protect to keep it healthy,” said Martuwarra Council Chair Dr Anne Poelina.
The Council’s proposed buffer zone area would cover just 9% of the Fitzroy catchment but protects 90% of the floodplains.
Two potential and opposing Fitzroy future scenarios are now on the table. Will the Government allow the Fitzroy's life-giving floodwaters to be taken to support big business irrigators? Or will they choose to work alongside Fitzroy River Traditional Owners to plan to protect the river and its National Heritage listed floodplains?
Protection would encourage sustainable options for development without compromising the flow and health of the Fitzroy. River protection and development such as tourism, bush foods, carbon and traditional pastoralism can work side by side.
We need to show the Government that a buffer zone would work — please send a message of support!