Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Maria Riedl and Jon Altman on the Wild Rivers of Queensland and LNP plans

Maria writes to Minister Burke to protest Queensland government intentions to regulate wild rivers...

5 March 2013

Dear Minister Burke,

I would like to draw your attention to yet again Queensland government intentions to regulate wild rivers. Their actions would impact on International agreements such as CAMBA JAMBA ROKAMBA and RAMSAR wetlands as well as the aquifers, other important but not listed wetlands and areas which depend on the free flowing, unregulated systems and other states.

This is madness on the part of the blinkered Queensland government and totally disregards the impacts any regulation of these rivers would cause. There needs to be a referral to the commonwealth. There needs to be a strategic assessment immediately on the impact of separated proposals as well. Not only would the ecological diversity and biological health of matters dependent upon these free wild rivers but what about the associated infrastructure, the changes to direction of flows, the alteration of inflows to other rivers, wetlands, aquifers such as the GBR, roads, dams, pipelines...

Perhaps it is time to take a very microscopic look at the GBR and a strategic assessment of it before we have yet again the terrible Impacts as in the MBD replicated.

Queensland seems to be rushing, without referrals and without consultation with other states on the impacts of regulating wild rivers.

Aren't we ALL living in Australia, or is Queensland a separate country that does not care or consider impacts on the entire system of the GBR, the Lake Eyre Basin and even impacts on the MDB?

I ask the you ask for an explanation and that you are made aware of ANY changes to these wild rivers immediately.

Expansion of mining and other water extractive industries must not be allowed if they alter our natural environment in a manner that WILL have a cumulative and singular impact. Surely the health of our river systems, our Basins is more important than government's and mining companies and irrigators rush to make more dollars.

We are talking yet again about the Precautionary Principle and the Principle of intergenerational equity as highlighted in the EPBC Act.

As the Minister for the Environment you have the responsibility to ensure that states are adhering to the EPBC Act and international conventions and agreements that Australia has signed up for. Near enough is simply not good enough.

Again, I would also ask that the Commonwealth does not pass the EPBC Act baton to states at the next COAG meeting on this subject. States have vested interest. Prime examples are Queensland and their weakening of environmental laws to allow  so called "cutting of green tape or red tape". Victoria is another state that is on the process of doing the same, as is Western Australia. Handing over the control of EPBC Act to these will have a detrimental effect on matters protected under the act as well as all of Australia because we KNOW that cumulative impacts of single actions on each state will be unacceptable in their intensity.

The Commonwealth has a role to ensure that states do NOT weaken laws that have been. Implemented by the states to ensure their compliance with the EPBC Act. This is exactly what they are doing in preparation of huge huge huge expansion of mining, for minerals for water, expansion of cotton, of other crops that are no sustainable on a continent that has such a shortage of water. Water must be shared in a balanced manner with the environment and not everything is about money!!!

Have a close look at what states are sneakily, without consultation, doing to National parks!!!! Cattle in them, prospecting, thinning or logging, hunting, developments, more roads, mining etc

We need a rethink on what a "National" park is and what they are setup for. It shouldn't be that single activities are approved piecemeal wi strategic assessments!

I also have concerns about the Tarkine and your failure to list the 430,000ha as recommended. An opportunity Minister Burke.

If there will be a change of government later this year perhaps this presents you (at the moment) with an unprecedented opportunity to make decisions that are nation building, such as listing the the entire area of the Tarkine as recommended, as ensuring that the EPBC Act is not passed to the states and rejigging the EPBC Act to include cumulative impacts, stronger strategic assessments, climate change and...

You have a once in a lifetime opportunity, please use it as it was used in the Franklin Dam listing. You can if you have the will. Please, this is about the future of our natural environment which is already degraded and in dire peril from many many fronts.


Maria Riedl


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