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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
30 September 2005
Today the Australian Government applauded a decision by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council to provide water and funding to save highly stressed River Red Gums along the River Murray.
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the proposal agreed today by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council will provide nearly 20 gigalitres of water to inundate 4,700 hectares of significant river red gum habitat along the River Murray in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
“This action demonstrates we are making progress with the Living Murray initiative, and the Australian Government is committed to this,” Senator Campbell said.
The Living Murray initiative aims to improve environmental outcomes at significant ecological assets along the Murray, including the Hattah Lakes, Chowilla Floodplain (including Lindsay- Wallpolla) and River Murray Channel. These areas will be the target for the River Red Gum watering proposal agreed by the Ministerial Council.
The Council’s decision also provides $1.53 million for pumping, monitoring and related on-ground work to get the water out to wetlands and billabongs where it will replenish River Red Gums that have been suffering during the drought.
“The Murray-Darling Basin Commission has carried out surveys that indicated the desperate state of River Red Gums along the Murray River. We have responded to these findings with money and water to tackle the problem,” Senator Campbell said.
“This action is in addition to the joint funding of an extra $1 million announced earlier this month by the Australian and Victorian Governments to water almost 2,000 hectares of River Red Gum habitat in Victoria.
“I will be receptive to Australian Government participation in any further watering partnerships during 2005-06.”
The water for the broader River Red Gum watering package is from water recovered under the deal to improve environmental flows for the Snowy River, which includes a component to recover environmental flows for the Murray River.
This week the Australian Government also began flooding Lake Merreti on the River Murray floodplain near Renmark, South Australia. This is land leased to the Australian Government and is part of the Riverland Ramsar wetland of international significance.
“These actions demonstrate the Australian Government is committed to working with the States in a joint effort to save these magnificent trees,” Senator Campbell said.
For more information about River Red Gums visit www.mdbc.gov.au
Renae Stoikos (Minister Campbell) (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434