MDBA Goolwa officer a win for Mayo and the river
After long advocating for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to have a permanent presence in the Lower Lakes and Coorong region, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed today's announcement of a 'Goolwa Region Regional Co-ordination Officer'.
The Commonwealth-funded position was announced this afternoon by the Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt and South Australian Senator Anne Ruston.
“I have been advocating for a Regional Engagement Officer to be based at Goolwa for more than two years now following the Government’s successful pilot trial of the officer program across the Basin,” Rebekha said.
“I was disappointed when the Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth missed out when offices were set up in Adelaide and in Murray Bridge early in 2018 and I renewed my advocacy for these critical sections of the River to have an office when the Morrison Government came into power last year. I am pleased the voice of Mayo has been heard.
“The environment and the communities at the very end of the River face very different challenges and issues and they need their own representative so I am pleased that the Government has listened to us and decided to base a regional co-ordinator officer in Goolwa, which is close to the barrages and the Murray Mouth.
“Having a regional engagement officer able to engage with the community would not only help to build trust in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan but would provide an important avenue for our communities to voice our concerns directly to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority about the ongoing management of the river. We desperately need to salvage a workable plan, and having direct community access to the MDBA will help us achieve that."
Minister Pitt said the co-ordinator's position would be hosted by the MDBA but would support the work reform work of other agencies including the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office.
Rebekha said the officer role was critical for the region but the Government now needed to take the next step and set up a Murray River Research Institute in Goolwa.
“In recognition of our vulnerability, in the lead-up to the 2018 Mayo by-election, I called upon the Federal and South Australian Governments to establish an institute in the region," Rebekha said.
“Such an institute would be dedicated to research on how to make our part of the river more resilient to the ebbs and flows of upstream conditions, to find new solutions for the management of salinity, water, wetlands, ecosystems and nutrient levels, to provide real-time summaries on the ecological condition of the river and to monitor and report on the socio-economic benefits for stakeholders during ebb and flow events.
“A well-resourced South Australian Murray-Darling research institute would plug an important gap in scientific expertise, and I will continue to advocate for it to benefit our South Australian river communities.”