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9/2/05...NSW Greens grim take on river ecology on the way out here

Media Release 9 February, 2005

Survival of NSW rivers now in jeopardy

Internationally significant wetlands on the Gwydir River in the state's northwest face a bleak future after the NSW Court of Appeal today confirmed the NSW Government has made extracting water a priority over river health, Greens MLC Ian Cohen said today.

"The Carr Government has sold out the NSW public and the state's stressed river systems to benefit the financial interests of big irrigation businesses."

"Instead of acting responsibly to help return rivers to health, the Carr Government has handed irrigators a lifetime guarantee of access to river water, irrespective of whether the water is there or not."

The judgement of the NSW Court of Appeal today follows a series of body blows for the Gwydir River in recent months. More than 8000 Ibis chicks have died in the past two weeks after the Department of Natural Resources (DIPNR) failed to supply enough water.

"The Gwydir and Gingham Wetlands are dying because the NSW Government continues to deny them the water they need to survive.

"Instead of recognising the problem and using new water sharing plans to increase environmental flows and keep rivers healthy, the Carr Government has chosen a path of action that could push the state's rivers to the point of destruction.

The National Competition Council has suspended $26 million of NSW competition payments this year because the Carr Government has failed to show how water sharing plans return enough water to the rivers. NSW is the only state that has had its payments docked.

Mr Cohen said landholders surrounding wetlands across NSW are fed up with the government's mismanagement.

On the Gwydir and Gingham Rivers, landowners who signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with the NSW and Federal Governments in 1999 to proceed with a listing of the Gwydir Wetlands under the international RAMSAR Convention, have decided to pull out of the MOU because both state and
federal agencies have failed to release enough water from Copeton Dam to keep the wetlands healthy.

Further Information: Paul Sheridan, 0410 516 656

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