“This river is going to run dry”.
Wiradjuri elder Uncle Ken “Tunny” Murray did not hold back during Wednesday’s Murray Darling Basin Royal Commission public consultation sitting in Albury.
Mr Murray was one of eight speakers to address the South Australian initiated Royal Commission to inquire into the operations and effectiveness of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
He issued a stark warning to governments and authorities about the Murray Darling Basin and its major rivers.
“I’ve got no education. I’m not a scientist but I’ve got knowledge of the river. I was bred, and born, on the river,” Mr Murray said.
He said time for talk had long passed and action, not arguing, is what was needed.
“We’ve been talking for hundreds and hundreds of years,” he said.
“My grandfather told me what’s going to happen. He was 104 when he died. This is what’s going to happen, we’re going to run dry. Mark my word.
“Farmers, you’re all arguing all the time … it will never, ever happen until somebody gets off their butt.
“Talk the talk and walk the walk.
“We’ve got a beautiful river here. I’ve seen this river go up and down like a yo-yo. It doesn’t know what it’s doing.”
Senior Counsel Assisting Richard Beasley said he understood that people were tired of talking about the Basin Plan and was grateful that about 30 people registered to attend the meeting.
“We are very conscious that we are not the first body that has come around to Basin regions and Basin towns and asked people to provide their views on the Basin Plan,” Mr Beasley said.
He said the Basin Plan was a complex issue and the community consultation did not allow detailed discussions but he was encouraged by information presented in Albury, and on Tuesday at meetings in Deniliquin.
“It also alerts us to people who we might ask to give sworn evidence,” he said.
“There’s people we met in Deniliquin and also some of the people who spoke today are really well-informed.”
Berrigan farmer Graeme Pyle told the meeting new technology existed to accurately measure flows in and out of the Basin but government was reluctant to trial the systems.
“If we’re going to stay in the 19th Century well all and good, but I think we must get into the 21st Century,” Mr Pyle said.