Water

NVIC considers court action

By Rodney Woods

A northern Victorian irrigation body is considering taking the Murray Darling Basin Authority to the International Court of Justice over unseasonal flows in the Goulburn-Murray rivers..

Northern Victorian Irrigation Communities member Chris Bourke, raised the court option in a letter published in this week's Country News, and said it was not the preferred option but one they were considering.

“We've spoke to politicians and bureaucrats and everyone thinks the unseasonal flows are someone else’s problem,” he said.

“We've engaged a barrister, given we are frustrated with the inaction.

“This is one of the options.

“We prefer not to go down this path but we might not have a choice as the rivers and erosion of the choke and the forest itself will be destroyed forever (if something is not done).”

Mr Bourke said the barrister had told the group that the unseasonal flooding breached the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

“He (the barrister) doesn’t believe we will get a fair hearing from these two acts so it’s (taking the MDBA to court) a feasible option but we haven’t chosen what we are going to do yet.”

Mr Bourke said the frustration was because those in control did not understand what was actually happening on the ground.

“Most people are very angry within the community,” he said.

“The worst thing about it is those in control are saying there's more capacity in the Murray.

“If they got out of their ivory towers, they would see there is no capacity and it actually is over capacity.”

Mr Bourke said if they decided to go ahead with the court hearing, they would likely set up a GoFundMe page to get financial support both locally and internationally.

Both environmentalists and farmers have been complaining that the inter-valley transfers have created artificially high flows in the Goulburn and Murray Rivers during summer.

Scientists have warned of the potential impact on fish species in the rivers.

The transfers are used to supply water to downstream developments.