FISH deaths, such as the one in the Darling River, are occurring on a smaller scale in the Riverina and MP Sussan Ley says more needs to be done to tackle them.
The federal government minister on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to seek an audit into the use of environment water in the southern Murray-Darling Basin.
“While Menindee (on the Darling River) has attracted a lot of attention, we’re also seeing fish kills in the Edward and Wakool systems, where I’ve seen them on and off over many years,” Ms Ley said.
“When I talk to the locals they understand that sometimes these things happen and they’re inevitable, but they also have recommendations about how they could be avoided or the scale could be reduced over time, so that we just don’t get such environmental disasters.”
“The fish kills we’ve seen, while there is no need to point the finger at any agency or policy, I think in part are a result of this inability for everyone involved to sit at the table and work out what we do in the interests of the entire southern basin, rather just focusing on hot spots, particular areas, particular issues at a time,” she said.
Speaking while at a funding announcement at Urana Road Oval in Lavington on Thursday, Ms Ley said an audit should assist in having particular concerns addressed.
“It’s easy to hide behind the big picture issues here,” she said.
“The Commonwealth Auditor-General has the ability to get down into the detail.”
Such an audit, Ms Ley said, could build on the work done by consultancy business Sefton and Associates, which last year examined socio-economic impacts of taking extra water out of the basin.
The Liberal MP also wants a change to rules on how water is managed within and between valleys, above and below the Barmah Choke, and between the environment and operational use.
“For an enormous central Murray and Murrumbidgee community area we’re looking down the lens of something pretty horrific if changes aren’t made,” Ms Ley said.
Meanwhile, Ms Ley has talked up the merit of a national register of convicted paedophiles which was proposed by her Coalition colleague Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
“It’s not hysterical, it’s not witch-hunting, it’s approaching this genuinely serious community attitude and making sure that the state boundaries with different jurisdictions, with sign-ups to sporting and community groups, we actually know and are able to track people on this register,” she said.
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