UPDATED: Wilcannia community to blockade bridge and save the Darling (Barka) River demanding water trading end in Australia

Friday 13th March will see numerous actions in support of the Wilcannia Blockade:
LISMORE: https://www.facebook.com/events/827614881084509/
Support the Wilcannia Bridge action
PARRAMATTA: https://www.facebook.com/events/294832408160894/
Action: Water for Rivers and Communities: Water is Not for Sale!
FLOOD the MINISTER! https://www.melbournefoe.org.au/flood_the_minister
STOP PUMPING NOW! Please sign!

A crowdfunder has been set up to support the Action
Gofundme Blockade On the 13th of March, the Darling River community will blockade the bridge at Wilcannia. We are calling for an end to water trading in Australia. The people of the Darling river at Wilcannia and Menindee have been fighting the government for 30 years over the corruption, over-allocation and water speculation that has now destroyed our river systems and the cultural heritage of the aboriginal people. This struggle is critical for the survival of rural Australia. Desertification of inland Australia and total ecological collapse is immanent without large scale reform of a broken system that privileges multi-national corporations and export crops over the survival of its own citizens.

The back story:

Earlier this year we followed Ian Sutton’s journey from the headwaters of the Murray Darling downstream and published Part 1 and Part 2 of Ian’s Fact Finding Tour. For the last few weeks Ian has been investigating the area around Wilcannia.

On the 25th of February, 2020, Aunty Beryl Philp-Carmichael, Barry-Allan Stone and Ian Sutton sent the below letter to the Prime Minister as a last-ditch effort to prevent their community from dying as their river is.

The community in Wilcannia will gather on the bridge on Friday 13th March to protest the ongoing destruction, demanding change in the way water systems are managed. The letter has been sent in front of this action.

Thankyou to the Barrier Daily Truth for these articles 24/2/20

Barrier Daily Truth

Of the letter Ian Sutton says:

“We have made every effort to ensure the letter represents to feelings and thoughts of the community. We have spent the better part of a week visiting community members and community leaders and ensuring that all opinions were met in the wording of the letter.

The Hon Scott Morrison MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Prime Minister,

We the people of Western NSW have been disgusted in the way we have been betrayed, with the desecration, drainage and destruction of our ground water, river systems, wetlands and lakes. This has resulted in the devastation of our plants and animals, the expansion of desertification throughout the Murray Darling Basin, increased climate extremes and a rural economic collapse.

We have been protesting, rallying and lobbying successive government for over 30 years and in that time, we have been ignored. We feel that you no longer represent the people of western NSW and instead are colluding with corporate interests to the detriment of our nation.

It has reached the point where we the people need to take stronger action if we are to avoid the death of the Riverland and wineries in South Australia, the loss of sustainable agriculture in Victoria and a complete rural economic collapse in NSW. If the Menindee Lakes remain dry then western NSW will die and there will be no future for rural communities, farmers or the Barkandji and Ngiyeempaa Traditional Owners.

The Australian Commonwealth Government has been unlawfully corporatised, largely commencing in 1994 when the acting Government committed to a National Competition Policy, bringing market disciplines to the delivery of many services provided by state governments. This led to the corporatisation of all water supply arrangements and in practice each state had to transfer ownership of its water supply and delivery infrastructure to a company. This unlawful process occurred without any consultation or approval from the Traditional Custodians of this land who have the lawful rights too and responsibilities for this water.

During this corporatising of government services, water licences were detached from land title. As reforms progressed further, it was decided to define water licences as shares and issued in perpetuity. This led to conditions that regulate the use of water at any location defined using separate policy instrument, resulting in entitlement and allocation trades being able to be executed without having to consider the nature of any social, environmental or economic impacts resulting from a decision to move water from one location to another.

Separate works approvals and delivery entitlements were then implemented. Unbundling of water licences drove structural adjustment and led the system to trade into trouble. In the Murray Darling Basin an over-allocation problem emerged due to market disciplines, creating massive mismanagement and inequity within the water trading and water sharing processes.

In addition to a reduction in return flows due to over-extraction, surface water trading has increased groundwater use and reduced the amount of groundwater that returned to the river. This problem has worsened as the value of water has increased. Seeking to capture this value, landholders began to divert overland flows that previously reached the river, as well as diverting river flows into private storage dams.

As of 8th December 2008, the Federal Government took jurisdiction from the states regarding water trading, including water charge and water market rules. Because of this we are holding your office responsible for the resulting devastation. The Water Amendment Act 2008 was enacted following a partial referral of powers by the Basin states to the Commonwealth. The amendments related to the transfer of functions from the former Murray-Darling Basin Commission where states had jurisdiction, to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority where the commonwealth was given partial jurisdiction.

Finally, while the entire community in western NSW were demanding action on the Murray Darling Basin plan and pleading for leadership over the looming rural economic collapse, the government was negligent. It was a kick in the guts when on 7th February 2020 the Water Management (General) Amendment (Exemptions for Floodplain Harvesting) was enacted which exacerbated the already dire situation, making it easier for corporations to access our water by making them exempt from the requirements for holding a water access licence or a water supply work approval, when doing flood plain harvesting.

Due to corruption and mismanagement over water licensing decisions and water sharing plans, present and previous state and federal governments have acted unlawfully, resulted in unacceptable social, environmental and economic impacts. Critical water accounting arrangements and allocation arrangements are not consistent with hydrological realities and the negative impacts of this are nation-wide and have abridged our right to use water.

As a response to your inaction over the degradation of the Murray Darling Basin, the community will be peacefully blockading the Wilcannia bridge on Friday 13th March 2020. We are no longer asking; we are demanding change in the way our water systems are managed. Your corruption and mismanagement have led to a catastrophic environmental, social and ecological disaster for which you accept no blame or responsibility for. You have also demonstrated to the people that you are not willing or capable of providing a duty of care for Australian citizens, nor provide any solutions for the current state of the Murray Darling Basin.

Our primary demand is that water be taken off the market and water trading ended in Australia. Water is not a commodity! We also demand an immediate embargo on river diversion, flood plain harvesting and pumping of rivers by irrigators upstream. We must allow the current flood waters to fill the Menindee lakes and to provide a proper flush for the Darling Baaka, with full connectivity all the way to the junction with the Murray.

The First Nation peoples of this land have always been custodians of this water and are responsible for it under First Law. First Law dictates that water cannot be owned by anyone, as it is here for all to share.

Since your office has demonstrated that they will not work for us or with us, we are driven to take the appropriate actions ourselves to ratify this critical situation.

Yours Faithfully,

Beryl Philp-Carmichael, Barry-Allan Stone, Ian Sutton

Hi all, we have posted our letter to the Prime Minister :). We have made every effort to ensure the letter represents to feelings and thoughts of the community. We have spent the better part of a week visiting community members and community leaders and ensuring that all opinions were met in the wording of the letter.

Take Action Now – We demand water be taken off the market and water trading ended in Australia – sign here

Water Is Life !!
Cooperation Is The Key !!
United We Stand !!

You can personally help this letter be seen by signing this petition: We demand water be taken off the market and water trading ended in Australia – sign here

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Barry-allan Stone Reply

    by standing together peacefully we can make change for the better13/3/2020

    • Keith Marler Reply

      Lets stop this B.S continuing as the country is being decimated for the pockets of greed, Scott look after yourresponsibility as PM AUSTRALIA FIRST

  2. Carol Fellows Reply

    Why has this argument over water not been taken to the High Court. If what the government are doing in regards to our water is illegal they need to be stopped. I’m sure everyone would be happy to chip in a few $$ for legal cost, or is this not an option.

  3. Warren Reply

    I live in GOONDIWINDI on the River.
    Born on the Barwon at Collarenebri.
    The river above here is in good shape. But it is silting up and water harvesting is preventing water entering the river.
    Below here is generally as you describe.
    The Nationals don’t get it .They think you like them.
    Good luck.

    • Rod Reply

      I intend to march on Coulston’s office in Broken Hill I plan to put signs to show our disgust of our current governments lack of empathy in saving and restoring the Darling/Barka river

  4. Colette Diedricks Reply

    Give back water rights to the original custodians of this land. The government must act now on climate change, cease all water mining, fracking, coal mining; and transition to renewable energy and sustainable industries.

  5. Anton Reply

    Taylor made little to be proud nothing to re Joyce Corporate Colonialism steeling Australia’s water facilitated by the out dated LNP neoliberalism economic rationalists idiology.

  6. Lynn Reply

    Every single one of our precioys waterways MUST be protected & saved for the greater long-term good of our country & our people & our Wildlife

    As recent horrific events have shown

  7. Simon John Stretton Reply

    Chinese ownership of Aust Farms should be banned.
    The Aust Govt are selling us out to allow China to become the dominant country in the world.
    Aussies need to wake up and sack both Fed and State Govt’s, allowing the minor parties to work together for us Aussies.

    The Govt’s don’t own the water.
    Cotton farms should be banned from Australia, they just take and take and put nothing back.
    I hope the white people get behind our 1st Nation’s mob and follow the example of Aunty Beryl.

    JUst do it.

  8. Soo Lubow Reply

    The blind leading the blind.. this Commonwealth government needs to be sacked. Water should not sold for
    profit

  9. Andrew Reply

    Stay the course. Block the bridges for a year if that’s what it takes. I’m right behind you.

  10. Mark O'Hare Reply

    Brilliant People fight back we need more of this Now so cool to see good news so to speak

  11. garry cross Reply

    It`s unfortunate that this Government has sold off just about every thing that we need survive as we have been doing the the past 200 odd years with out any issues. Who gave the Politicians approval for selling off our assets. They belong to Australians. Once there gone, there gone. They were not supposed be sold off. It doesn`t make sense. They are no longer our asset, but we pay for it. Stupid.

  12. Stephen Muldoon Reply

    My wife and I agree totally with all of the comments made above including the need to get rid of this Government (URGENTLY). We would like to join in your protest if possible. Could you advise us if there is any Protest arranged in the Lake Macquarie area?

    • Tracey Carpenter Reply

      Check out Water for Rivers and Water for Rivers Newcastle on Facebook for supporting events

  13. Hugh Jones Reply

    My ancestors were the Quins who lived at a property called Tarella near White Cliffs. My Granny Hazel , appears in a book called ” Pioneer Women of Austalia” I do not know why she was considered a Pioneer as her family was basically destroying the environment. They left after about 30 years. Thjere is another book called “the Governess” about this period. My wife’s grandfather was a clergyman at White Cliffs and may have baptized my mother circa 1910. He did perform the marriage ceremony of my wife and myself in the presence of both my father and mother on 29th Jan 1969. at Hunters Hill in Sydney. My wife has a PHd in applied Linguistics, and our son has a PHd in theoretical Chemistry, where he proved in 1997, that whatever you did with coal, it was always filthy.

  14. Patricia Lake Reply

    By your greed and corruption you are destroying one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world.. Our land now need to heal after the droughts and fires that we have just gone through.. Let the rivers flow and give the land a chance recover..

  15. Jason Reply

    The current government and system of government are totally useless. Needs a full change and implementation of a citizen assembly.

  16. Nick Suess Reply

    I am a very old guy now living in Perth, and way too sick to travel and be at your protest, but I truly wish I could. I have travelled western NSW a lot in past years and seen how the Darling, once a beautiful and prosperous navigable river for paddle steamers, has been reduced to a muddy ditch, or dried up altogether. And the reason is water theft. Let us not describe it any other more gentle way.
    It is THEFT!
    Corporations should NEVER be allowed to buy our precious water. It is a gift of nature that is not for sale.
    May this protest achieve success, and may we drive the water thieves from our society. Their licences to water should be revoked forthwith, with zero compensation. They speculated and they will then have lost. Bad bloody luck! They are a completely anti-social force which we simply don’t need. Let’s be rid of them.

  17. Bev Reply

    Like the fulfilment of other basic needs, water is not a commodity for trading. Take it off the market and be custodians of our land.

  18. Su Lee Reply

    When I signed this petition I was happy to share it on Facebook however I was expecting to share what I had read – not a begging letter designed by Change.org on my behalf. I tried to delete it but it wouldn’t do it. I’m not happy and will never ever sign again via this method. Very annoyed!

  19. Jo Phegan Reply

    Greedy politicians lining their own pocket.
    I’m so ashamed of our governments over the last 20 years.. Total mismanagement. You’ve really stuffed it up.

  20. Margaret McDonald Reply

    Will the blockade be all day on 13th Feb? If I come from Dubbo, when should I be there?

    • Jo Evans Reply

      The date is the 13th March, we are sure that the community intend to hold space all day

  21. Charles weldon Reply

    Water shouldn’t be for sale to the highest bidder. Put the n ation first.

  22. Julianne Rodgers Reply

    “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Psalm 24
    Take your negligent, corrupt hands off my water says the Lord. Don’t think you can ignore this,at your eternal peril Scott Morrison!

  23. Chibo Mertineit Reply

    Hi, I’m intressted in the development ref. The bridge blockade on 13th march. Can u give me a web- or facebook site, where i can get updates. Thinking of doing solidarity actions in the Lismore region.
    Good on you guys take the next step, it’s time n it’s urgent, my full hearted support!!!

    Chibo Mertineit

  24. Carolyn hampson Reply

    Disgusted and appalled by the plundering of this nation

  25. Janette Fitzgerald Reply

    Come on Scott lift this the people of Australia own this water why is it being sold if nothing changes you will loose a lot of vote believe me

  26. Michele Reply

    Stand together is the only way to say to our government enough is enough.

  27. Izzy Luescher Reply

    Today the government has declared it will launch assistance programs to fight the collapse of business and employment. Today is March 18th 2020, and I kindly request that this government who are responsible for selling our water rights, take an opportunity while the stock market is down , to retrieve these shares in OUR water! NOW! Not when it suits those parties whose interests are financial!

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