Tag Archives: broken hill

Baird condemns the Darling River to death with $500 million panic pipeline

MEDIA RELEASE – 16 June 2016

The Greens NSW water spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today accused Premier Mike Baird of condemning the Darling River to death, by committing to a $500 million pipeline from the Murray River to supply Broken Hill, rather than spend money and create policies to revive the Darling River as Broken Hill’s water supply.

“This is a tragic day for the Darling River and Menindee Lakes.  Today Mike Baird has confirmed the worst fears of those living in Broken Hill and the far West.  Building this pipeline facilitates the Darling River being sucked dry by upstream irrigators without causing water problems for Broken Hill,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The National Party has always wanted to hand over more water from the Darling to cotton irrigation, and now they’ve convinced Mike Baird to lay down $500 million to make it happen without the headache of Broken Hill running out of water.

“Burning through a huge amount of money for a panic pipeline which will not solve the water crisis is the wrong way to go.  The government should be committing to policies and works that will revive the Darling River and make the Menindee Lakes more efficient.

“The Greens believe the answer is to revive the Darling River.  To implement policies to ensure surface water flows down the Darling from small and medium rain events, rather than having all the water taken by irrigators in Southern Queensland and NSW.

“The Greens believe the $500 million should instead be spent on infrastructure works to make the Menindee Lakes System more efficient, including raising Weir 32, installing a regulator between Lake Menindee and Lake Cawndilla, and buying back Cubbie Station or at least some of their water rights to return flows to the river.

“The death of the Darling River has been caused by human mismanagement.  Today’s announcement only facilitates more mismanagement to the detriment of Broken Hill, all those who appreciate and rely on the Darling River, and the environment.”

Barnaby a fool on water management

MEDIA RELEASE – 9 June 2016

The Greens NSW water spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today labelled Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce a ‘fool’ after the federal water minister excused irrigators and blamed the environment for the water crisis in the lower Darling and Broken Hill.

“It’s instructive that Barnaby Joyce only visited Broken Hill because his plane was diverted from elsewhere,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Barnaby Joyce is a fool.  He denies the reality of climate change.  He blames the environment for man-made problems, and pretends upstream irrigation is not a problem for the Darling River.

“The foolish Barnaby proposed 27 new dams and irrigation projects in his 2014 Agriculture Green Paper.

“He is a water minister for big corporate irrigators only.  He clearly doesn’t care about family farmers and graziers going to the wall, let alone Broken Hill or the environment.

“Barnaby conveniently ignores the vast amounts of water used for huge cotton crops by his mates Southern Queensland.

“He’s like a cartoon character from the 1950s, with his head in the sand about the situation and simplistic engineering solutions.

“Barnaby Joyce has spent more time talking about Johnny Depp’s dogs than working on solving the crisis in the Murray Darling.”

Buckingham to Blair Northern Basin Water Allocations 5 May 2016

Northern Basin Water Allocations

Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM ( 15:15 :05 ): My question without notice is to the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water. I recently visited southern Queensland where I saw a large amount of cotton coming off Cubbie Station and irrigated farms near St George and Dirranbandi. Can the Minister update the House on the representations he previously stated he would make to the Queensland Government regarding water allocations in the Darling, Culgoa, Condamine and Balonne river systems?

The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Lands and Water) ( 15:15 : 40 ): I would be delighted to update the House because I recently made representations—I am trying to remember; I do not want to mislead the House—two or three Fridays ago when the water Ministers met in Brisbane. Not only did I make representations but I did it on their turf. One issue I raised on behalf of New South Wales was the Northern Basin Review and the work that is being done by the Murray‑Darling Basin Authority.

New South Wales has met a lot of its obligations under that review, including the water recovery that has occurred from our system. Queensland is lagging behind, and that frustrates me as the New South Wales Minister for Lands and Water. Indeed, I have commented at every ministerial council meeting that the results of the Northern Basin Review are outstanding—meaning they are overdue. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority engaged consultants to conduct this review but, unfortunately, they made a mess of it and we had to engage another set of consultants. They messed up part of the socioeconomic review relating to the northern communities, which for a long time have relied upon a strong agricultural sector and the use of productive water.

That is the first matter I have addressed with my Queensland counterparts. The other measure—and it was a win at the ministerial council, on behalf of the people of New South Wales—was to make sure as we move through the key decision points of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan that New South Wales continues to advocate for infrastructure projects to deliver water savings. We need to start thinking outside the box in order to deliver those water savings and so that we do not see productive water being purchased out of New South Wales and flowing downstream to South Australia and then eventually out to sea.

If that water and those savings can be made through infrastructure projects or projects such as the carp eradication program, we know that we can do great things for the environment and our agricultural sector. Significantly, at the last ministerial council meeting, all States and the Commonwealth agreed to look at non-flow related projects to help bridge the gap, particularly for the sustainable diversion limit [SDL] projects and the required 650 gigalitres.

What does that mean for New South Wales? If we can stop the release of cold water or black water events in our river systems, then we can deliver proper outcomes for the environment, such as the eradication of carp or the prevention of the death of fish populations. It will mean that we will not have to enter the market and buy productive water from our producers in regional New South Wales, and it will ensure that we have better rivers, more productive regional businesses and better socioeconomic outcomes for the people of regional New South Wales.

I thank the member for the Dixer. I thank him for giving me the opportunity to stand up and show that we are advocating on behalf of all of New South Wales and that if we have to have uncomfortable conversations with other States or the Commonwealth we will.


Niall Blair fails to raise Broken Hill water crisis with Barnaby Joyce

MEDIA RELEASE – 9 March 2016

The Greens NSW Water Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said he was shocked that state Water Minister, Niall Blair had not raised the issue of Broken Hill’s water crisis with the federal Water Minister Barnaby Joyce, and questioned whether the National Party was taking the issue seriously, or were simply looking out for their mates in the upstream irrigation industry.

“I asked Niall Blair a very simple question: had he made representations to Barnaby Joyce on the Broken Hill water crisis?  Mr Blair spoke for a few minutes without answering the question – a clear indication he has not raised the issue with Mr Joyce,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“What the hell is Minister Niall Blair doing if he hasn’t even raised the issue of Broken Hill’s water supply with Barnaby Joyce in the six months since Barnaby took on the federal water portfolio?

“Both Mr Blair and Mr Joyce are members of the NSW Nationals.  Surely they should have discussed it?  What is the excuse?  Are they forgetful or do they not care?

“Barnaby Joyce was based in St George in the heart of Queensland’s cotton irrigation belt, and was informally known as the “Member for Cubbie Station”.  I fear that the National Party are looking after their mates in the cotton industry ahead of the people of Broken Hill and others reliant on the Darling River.

“There have been several rain events in Southern Queensland, but the Darling River is dry as a bone.

“We need a water minister who is prepared to stand up and fight for the people reliant on the Darling River, but Mr Blair is failing to even raise the issue with his National Party colleagues.

“The fact is the National Party has sold the people of the far West down the river, just as they sent all the water from the Menindee Lakes down river.”

Hansard Transcript of Question and Answer:


8 March 2016

Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: My question is directed to the Minister for Lands and Water. Have formal representations been made on behalf of the people of Broken Hill, Menindee, Wilcannia and Pooncarrie to the Federal Minister for Water, Barnaby Joyce, regarding their water crisis? If so, what has been his response?

The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: I thank the member for his question. Each of those places is different and there are a number of different elements I could run through about a series of projects. Even though they originally come off the Darling system, some of them utilise weirs for their water supply, some have bores and some are looking at bigger projects. In some cases this Government has not needed to go to anyone else for assistance because it has been able to allocate funds. Regarding the short-term and long-term solution for Broken Hill, this Government has funded it through its promise it took to the 2015 election. It does not need to seek extra funding for that project to commence because the funds have been committed. Regarding some other projects, the Department of Primary Industries Water can fund those projects within the commitments that this Government has made.

We cannot talk about issues relating to water security for communities such as Broken Hill, which relies on the Menindee system, without talking to the Federal Government and other States. All those systems are intrinsically linked. The operation and the types of works that we are talking about in places such as Menindee, particularly when there is water in the lakes, falls to the Federal Government. The issue has been raised not only with the Federal Government but also with the Victorian and South Australian governments. Those are the types of things that we have regularly discussed at the ministerial council. More importantly, we have discussed what we are doing with communities up and down the Darling system. What is an issue at Menindee is also an issue for the communities that rely on the irrigation sector further upstream and downstream of Menindee.

Mr Jeremy Buckingham: Point of order: My point of order is relevance. My question asked what formal representations the Minister had made specifically to the Hon. Barnaby Joyce. We are nearly two minutes into his answer and he has not been generally relevant to the question about representations to the Minister.

The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.

The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Those issues are regularly discussed with a number of stakeholders, including communities along the Darling system, other States that have involvement with the operating system and other jurisdictions such as the Federal Government. Those issues are discussed quite openly with the Federal Minister at the ministerial council. I have had discussions with the local member, Sussan Ley, about what is happening out there and also about redistribution. The township of Broken Hill and Menindee Lakes will be redistributed into another Federal seat. I am sure there will be another series of conversations with Federal members about what we are planning. The point is that the New South Wales Government is funding this project. It took that issue to the election. Those opposite stood in the way of that funding. This Government is now building on the short-term solutions we have already implemented to create long-term solutions. The operation of Menindee Lakes is regularly discussed with many different stakeholders. [Time expired.]

When it comes to water, Nationals put communities and environment last

MEDIA RELEASE – 3 July 2015

The Greens NSW water spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has today said that the decision by the NSW Government to rename the NSW Office of Water as DPI Water showed the people of Broken Hill that when it comes to water the National Party put the needs of communities and the environment last.

“This is yet another slap in the face for the people of Broken Hill from the National Party.  This name change is a message from the new Water Minister that the main focus of the government when it comes to water is the needs of primary industries and that communities and the environment are expected to take a back seat,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Once again we see the National party rolling over for their mates at Cotton Australia and making it absolutely clear whose side they are on.

“This latest insult follows the news that Minister Niall Blair is considering putting Broken Hill onto bore water as a permanent solution so that farmers upstream can continue to take more than their fair share of water.

“The Greens believe that the Minister and the Government have a statutory responsibility to ensure an adequate water supply for communities and the environment.  While irrigation is important, nothing is more important than clean reliable drinking water,” Mr Buckingham said.

Contact: Jack Gough – 9230 2202 or 0427 713 101


NSW requests QLD let more water flow down the Darling River

MEDIA RELEASE – 6 May 2015

The Greens NSW water spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham used his first question in the new parliament, to ask a question of new Lands and Water Minister, Niall Blair about whether rainfall in Queensland was making its way into NSW, or whether it was being sucked up by irrigators such as Cubbie Dam?

“The Greens will continue to use parliament to advocate for the residents of Broken Hill and Menindee and to push for policies that will revive the Darling River,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“I was pleased to hear that the new minister has actually written to the Queensland Government to request that they set an embargo on water being taken out of the rivers that feed the Darling River.

“While infrastructure works around the Menindee Lakes are necessary, the ultimate solution to Broken Hill’s water issue is to revive the Darling River to a healthy state, and that’s what the Greens will be fighting for,” he said.

Jeremy Buckingham MLC: My question is to the Honourable Niall Blair, the Minister for Lands and Water

Minister, how much of rainfall in Central and Southern Queensland over the past three to four months has flowed through to the Darling River system?  Has irrigation storage in Queensland, particularly at Cubbie Station, had a negative impact on the flow of water into NSW?  And what does this mean for those living on the Darling River system?

Minister Blair: [extract] “I’ve written to my Queensland counterpart to express the view that although it’s a balancing act… we must look at the critical human consumption needs right across the basin, right across states, and that’s why we had to put the embargo back on in NSW.  I’ve written to my Queensland counterpart to ask whether they would consider, in future events, doing the same… and I hope that they will favourably look upon that request in the future.”

Video of the Parliamentary Question Time

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

Greens plan to revive dying Darling River

MEDIA RELEASE – 15 December 2014

The Greens NSW water spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today launched the Greens’ policy in Broken Hill to revive the Darling River, saying it was in a dire state with people all along the Darling River in towns such as Wilcannia, Menindee and Broken Hill suffering as a result.

“The Darling River is dying with horrific consequences for the towns, farms, communities and environment down the river.  This is not just a natural phenomenon, upstream extraction has severely depleted flows to the point where the river’s future is dire,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The Greens want to revive the Darling River by returning significant amounts of water to it.  Small to medium rain events should be able to make their way downstream and not end up in irrigators’ dams.  The massive Cubbie Station cotton farm in Queensland is the most egregious example of this and the Greens want the NSW Government to seek to purchase Cubbie Station and return up to 500 gigalitres of water back into the Darling River system.

“Today I visited Wilcannia and heard from the Aboriginal community who grew up along the river about just how important the Darling River is to them and their town.  Currently the Darling River is a sand bed at Wilcannia. The government should commit funds to a new weir to provide a weir pool through the town of Wilcannia.

“Rather than put Broken Hill on to bore water, the Greens support minor and long overdue infrastructure changes to the Menindee Lakes System and management that prioritises Broken Hill’s water supply and includes proper local community consultation.

“For too long the Darling River has been over exploited and forgotten by the politicians in Sydney and Canberra.  All political parties should recognise that the Murray Darling Basin Plan has failed to restore the health of the Darling River, and commit to reviving the Darling River and recognising its importance to the communities that rely on it.”

Contact: Max Phillips – 0419 444 916

NSW Greens Darling River Policy Initiative

1) Return water to the Darling River

The Greens want to see significant amounts of water returned to the Darling River. Small and moderate rain events should be allowed to flow into the river and make their way downstream. Too much irrigation and flood diversion works are occurring upstream, with additional water for mining and coal seam gas a new concern. Restoring water volumes to the river is a more sensible way to provide water security for users than expensive engineering schemes.

The NSW Government should seek to purchase Cubbie Station and return a significant amount of water to Darling System. Cubbie Station uses 200 gigalitres of water per year on average, and can use up to 500 gigalitres in a year. Not only does it divert a significant portion of flows in the Culgoa River, but flood diversion works also divert a large area of
catchment into Cubbie Station’s dams.

The Greens support the NSW Government purchasing Cubbie Station and transitioning it away from cotton with water licences being used to return water to the Darling River to ensure flows down the entire length of the river. We believe such a purchase is an economical way to return flows to the river, improve river health and improve water security for downstream users.

2) A downstream weir for Wilcannia in 2015

The Greens want to see a new downstream weir built for Wilcannia in 2015. The current weir is leaking and upstream of town meaning the river through town is very low or non-existent during dry times. A new downstream weir will provide better water quality for residents of Wilcannia, provide for recreation, swimming, fishing and cultural uses, as well as provide an opportunity for small scale horticultural irrigation for local food supply.

There has been a campaign for a new downstream weir in Wilcannia for at least 20 years. The Greens want to have funds committed, not only for feasibility studies, but to actually construct a new weir with an appropriate fish ladder.

3) Improved management of Menindee Lakes and local consultation

The Greens believe Menindee Lakes are a valuable environmental, economic and recreational resource, as well as an important source of water supply for the city of Broken Hill. Management of the Menindee Lakes should be rebalanced to ensure the well-being of the people of Menindee and Broken Hill is prioritised. This means the Murray Darling Basin Authority and Water NSW should factor in the value of the Lakes to the local population and environment, when considering releases for downstream uses – rather than viewing the Lakes as simply a source of water loss through evaporation.

The Greens support more local involvement in the management of the Menindee Lakes System, this should include revising whether water levels in Lake Menindee and Cawndilla are included in threshold calculations and setting a water volume threshold trigger for increased local consultation in the management of the Menindee Lakes System.

4) Support for the ‘We Want Action’ plan

The Greens support the plan drafted by the ‘We Want Action’ group, including raising the height of weir 32, improving the connection between Lake Pamamaroo and Copi Hollo, and investigating the feasibility of extending the current anabranch pipeline to weir 32.

The Greens share concerns that implementing bore water and associated desalination infrastructure will lead to a de-prioritisation of the health of the Menindee Lakes system and Broken Hill’s water supply within the overall management of the Murray-Darling River system. In particular that it will allow increased water allocations upstream on the Darling River, and allow water from the Menindee Lakes System to be used more frequently to fulfil downstream needs, as either replacement for water from the Murray River, or at the expense of the Menindee Lakes System itself.

5) Reverse recent retrograde changes made by the Water Management Act 2014

The Water Management Bill 2014 made significant retrograde changes to water management in NSW that will be to the detriment of the Darling River and its downstream users. These include:

a) excluding post-2004 data from water management calculations – which effectively excludes the Millennium Drought and a changing climate. This means water storages will be emptied more quickly and recklessly, which will create a more dire situation when drought does strike.

b) legalising illegal flood works and granting flood water rights. This means that significant amounts of water will be diverted or continue to be diverted from the Darling River for private use. The effect will mean that small and medium rain events will not make it to the lower Darling.

c) Making supplementary water licences compensable, increasing the potential liability for tax payers, and additional pressure to provide increased allocations to irrigators and other water users.

These changes will lead to less water in the rivers, increased liabilities for taxpayers, and greater allocations of scare resources leaving little for dry periods which are predicted to become more common with climate change. The Greens voted in parliament against these changes and will work for the changes to be repealed.

6) Restoring the buyback of water in the Murray Darling system to at least 2570 gigalitres

Restoring the buyback of water in the Murray Darling system to, at least the original 2750 gigalitres specified in the 2012 Murray Darling Basin Plan, which was subsequently reduced by the NSW Government to 1,500 gigalitres as a condition of NSW signing up to the plan.

« Older Entries Recent Entries »