WA election: Kimberley candidates have their say on the Fitzroy River

Posted on March 11, 2021

As Western Australians prepare to go to the polls, hundreds of Kimberley Like Nowhere Else supporters have asked local candidates for their position on the protection of the Fitzroy River. 

We wanted to give you an update on how each party is tackling the issue of protecting the mighty Fitzroy River.                                                                                                                                                                                    

We’re very clear in our non-partisan stance - we will never tell you how to vote, but we want you to be informed on where each of the parties stand.

On Tuesday 9 March, political candidates from all major parties gathered at the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council’s candidates forum in Broome. Each spoke about their policies in relation to the Fitzroy River: here is a summary of what has been said about the river so far, including some quotes from the event.

WA Labor 

WA Labor has maintained their 2017 election commitments to no dams, the protection of the Fitzroy River and to developing a management plan for sustainable development. 

The local Labor candidate for Kimberley has pledged support for the Fitzroy River National Park and to support other Traditional Owner groups who would like to have the park extended onto their river Country. 

Labor candidate for Kimberley Divina D’Anna:

“I am committed to the creation of a National Park along the river and its tributaries and to ensure the river will not be dammed. Using traditional knowledge and lessons learned from other jurisdictions, we can be very clear about ensuring the proposed Fitzroy River National Park creation provides real outcomes for the protection of cultural and environmental values.”

"I remain committed to working with other Traditional Owner groups who may wish to advance a dialogue about the expansion of the National Park."

For more information on Labor’s policy, see their 2017 ‘Plan for the Kimberley’, as well as their response to Environs Kimberley’s election survey in 2021.

 Liberal Party of WA

The Liberal WA candidate said at the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Forum that he was against the damming of the Fitzroy River; supported strong consultation with Traditional Owners; and believe that taking surface water for irrigation is unlikely to be an economically viable development strategy.  The Liberals will be developing a policy in the next term of Government and focusing on critiquing plans as they are developed should Labor win the election.  

Liberal candidate for the Mining and Pastoral region Neil Thompson:

“Irrigated agriculture is a very difficult process… we are simply not going to see a big dam on the Fitzroy, that’s not going to happen because it’s simply not economic.”

“We are committed to holding this government to account and we will do that with great intensity. And we will work with the Martuwarra Council, we will work with Traditional Owners, we will work with the pastoral sector to make sure there are positive outcomes for this region.”

Greens WA

The Greens WA support a ban of fracking and significant environmental protections for the Fitzroy River.  They also support strong consultation with the Traditional Owners of the Martuwarra.  The Greens have outlined that many of their existing water and environment policies would be applicable to protecting the Fitzroy River.  

Greens candidate for Kimberley Naomi Pigram:

“We have seen the disasters of the Murray Darling and King Rivers. Therefore, the Greens WA and I cannot support the regulated destruction of the Martuwarra. As the Greens our policy supports the protection of Country and the rights of all people who call the Kimberley home to live in healthy and sustainable environments.”

 The Greens policies are available on their website here.

Nationals WA

The Nationals WA candidate for the Kimberley has said she is against damming the Fitzroy River and been quoted in the National Indigenous Times as stating that she will focus on protecting the Fitzroy River. She has also said that taking water from groundwater wells is a better solution than taking water from the Fitzroy River.  During the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council forum she indicated she would also be open to taking surface water from the river, but no policy related to the future of the Fitzroy River has been released.

WA Nationals candidate for Kimberley Millie Hills:

“The Fitzroy River is a big resource. I think water is more precious than gas.”

“I do believe that damming is not an option…There’s a possibility we could use some water that’s coming down the Fitzroy River, whether that’s land based or digging wells for water, or try to catch the overflow.”

It is clear that protection of the Fitzroy River is a key election issue for all candidates of major parties in the Kimberley - with all of them talking about the importance of the river. 

A massive 25,000 people have stood up in support of the Fitzroy River! And now we need your help for the next phase, to ensure the entire river is protected from massive water extraction into the future.

The next important phase of the fight for the river starts now. Regardless of who forms the next WA Government, we will continue our fight to protect the Martuwarra Fitzroy River - together.

Over 200 Broome locals packed out the Broome Civic Centre to attend the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council candidates forum (Photo: M Pritchard)


Authorised by M Pritchard. 44 Blackman Street, Broome WA 6725


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