I’m writing to you about the Fitzroy River. The river is a haven for many species, and remarkably, it is also the world’s last great stronghold for the critically endangered Freshwater Sawfish. 

I commend the commitment of the WA Government last week, when you travelled with your Ministerial colleagues to Fitzroy Crossing to consult with Traditional Owners, pastoralists and other stakeholder groups about the future of the Fitzroy River. 

I strongly support the McGowan Government’s election commitment to protect the Fitzroy River with a new National Park and Catchment Management Plan. However, it is crucial that the Catchment Management Plan provides real protection for the river.

Protection should be based on the recent statement by leading scientists that called for no dams, increased management and for Government to “legislate for a management plan that includes a buffer zone along the river that protects important seasonal wetlands; the alluvial aquifers and other groundwater conduits on which dry season refuge pool are reliant; and the floodplains from which the aquifers recharge. The buffer zone must exclude native vegetation clearing, hydraulic fracturing, mining and large water extraction projects.”

The Fitzroy River Science Statement highlights the outstanding cultural and environmental values of the river:

The Fitzroy is of great cultural significance, and has been National Heritage Listed for its cultural values. Fitzroy River Traditional Owners have expressed their concern for the river and desire to be involved in its protection in the 2016 Fitzroy River Declaration.

To achieve sustainable economic development, we need to learn the lessons from the past where large government investments in irrigated agriculture have led to environmental damage and failed to deliver the promised social and economic benefits. Sustainable economic development should be built around the needs of local people and the protection of the river.

I commend you for taking this important step towards realising the visionary election commitment to protect the Fitzroy River. Thank you for your commitment.

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