Water Grab Text
I write to urge you to reject Gina Rinehart’s offer to trade off parts of her Fitzroy Valley pastoral lease for a massive water entitlement.
The proposed water license of 325 GL would turn Gina Rinehart’s iconic pastoral stations into one of the biggest irrigation properties in the Southern Hemisphere: close to the largest at Cubbie Station in the Murray-Darling Basin that uses an annual average of 200 GL. Mrs Rinehart’s proposal would put the Fitzroy River on a pathway towards the fish kills and irretrievable damage we see on the Murray-Darling rivers. The National Heritage listed free flows of the Fitzroy are too important to be bargained away.
Her offer to trade areas of her pastoral lease for water does not stack up. The land is not hers to trade. It is owned by the State and therefore people of Western Australia, and the Native Title holders. Mrs Rinehart only owns the pastoral lease over the land.
The creation of the proposed Fitzroy River National Park is strongly supported; however, this must not come at the expense of protecting the National Heritage listed natural flows of the Fitzroy River and its floodplains. Creating water storage dams on these floodplains would hold back river flows in the wet season, and should violate the ‘no-dams’ policy.
The river is considered the last stronghold of the critically endangered freshwater sawfish. Damaging the natural flows of the Fitzroy River will put the sawfish one step closer to extinction.
Taking water from the river will also have serious economic costs. In particular, Aboriginal people who get nearly a quarter of their food from fish and plants around the river would lose food supplies as river productivity is reduced. Also, land clearing for crops and dams along the Fitzroy River would release thousands of tonnes of carbon. The prospects for sustainable industries like tourism will be damaged.
At the 2017 election, you promised to protect the Fitzroy River and support sustainable development. Gina Rinehart’s plans are not sustainable and will not protect the river. I urge you to reject this proposal and instead protect the Fitzroy River and floodplains from dams and water extraction.