26 reports in 30 years: Greens call for action on the Richmond River

MEDIA RELEASE 10 December 2018: A review by the Greens of the number of reports identifying the poor condition of the Richmond River and setting out plans to improve it reveals there have been at 26 in the past 31 years. There have also been 3 major fish kills and blackwater events since 2001, two of which resulted in closure of the river to fishing. Fish kills of this scale had not been previously documented in Australia.

The Greens say this shows the issue is not a lack of knowledge or detailed action plans, but a lack of leadership, funding and coordination from successive NSW Governments.  

Greens candidate for Lismore Sue Higginson is calling on both Labor and the Nationals to back the Greens $200 million plan to revive the Richmond River.

Sue Higginson said, “The River is fundamental to our Region. It’s health has to be a priority for all of us. We have turned our backs on this vital natural asset for far too long. We are all missing out on all of the benefits a healthy River brings to a Region. We have an opportunity right now to draw a line in the sand and turn it’s dire health around. With my Greens Parliamentary colleagues and all of the wonderful members of our communities I  am determined to see this happen and we have the action plan to make it happen”.

Greens MP and Environment Spokesperson Cate Faehrmann said: “This timeline of inaction on the Richmond River speaks volumes about the lack of genuine commitment to fixing the river by successive governments.

“In the past 30 years the government has produced numerous glossy brochures and action plans and yet the degradation of the catchment has gotten worse, the fishing industry has almost disappeared and the Wilson’s River is unfit to swim in.

“The blame for this farce sits squarely with the National Party who have failed to secure the significant funding necessary to revive the river.

“We know the problem and we know the solutions; what we need now is money, coordination and on-ground action.

“That is why the Greens have committed to a $200 million investment in reviving the Richmond River over the next 10 years.”

Greens MPs Cate Faehrmann and member for Ballina Tamara Smith, along with Greens candidate for Lismore Sue Higginson, held a roundtable at SCU in Lismore on 23 November with about 30 key stakeholders including farmers, fishers, scientists and Landcarers to seek feedback on a draft Revive Richmond River plan. The final plan will be launch in early 2019. Elements of the the $200 million draft plan include:

  • Incentives to fence off river banks to stock and change to farming practices to reduce pollution and erosion
  • Planting millions of trees in strategic locations along the catchment
  • An independent Richmond River Commissioner to coordinate a whole-of-government and community response
  • A revolving fund to acquire, restore and on sell strategically important land
  • An end to native forest logging in the catchment
  • Funding for estuary, wetland and mangrove rehabilitation
  • Funding for Aboriginal Traditional Owners to revegetate and restore their Native Title Lands and identify and protect cultural sites

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