Australia’s richest person, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, has just proposed one of Australia's largest ever irrigation properties along the Fitzroy River!
Her plan would see her taking 325 billion litres of water a year from the river to grow food for cows. To give this perspective, the largest irrigation property in the Southern Hemisphere is the Cubbie Station cotton farm at the headwaters of the Murray-Darling. This station uses an average of 200 billion litres of water each year.
Mrs Rinehart's company has called this a "water rescue". This follows from her comments that 99% of the waters that flow through the Fitzroy River are wasted. But we know this is far from true. We know the floodwaters support National Heritage listed cultural and environmental values, including being the world’s last stronghold for the critically endangered freshwater sawfish.
The proposal has come as part of an attempted deal to trade areas of Rinehart's pastoral lease into a National Park in exchange for a massive water license. This giant irrigation scheme would require massive new dams on the floodplains, and lead the Fitzroy down a disastrous path like the Murray-Darling. It is a serious new threat to our work to ensure the protection of this iconic river.