Because the Darling River has had so much water taken out of it by irrigators, and with a fairly severe drought, an extensive fish kill has resulted, with some estimates placing the number of dead fish up around the million mark. Indeed, some of these fish are quite old, the implication being that they have survived previous droughts. However, federal water minister David Littleproud and his NSW counterpart Niall Blair blamed the fish kill on the drought alone1. Do people along the river still vote National?
Advice to the New South Wales government from Fisheries NSW, delivered in 2012 warned that river flow rules under the governments 10-year plan for the Darling River would put threatened species of fish, including the Murray Cod, at risk. They warned that issues directly related to water management (i.e. irrigation) were having a negative cumulative impact on native fish in the river. Fisheries NSW stated that the draft flow plan was based on outdated data collected over a decade earlier, and since that time river flows had decreased by as much as three quarters in some areas2. On top of this, the rotting carcasses of the fish will have to be removed from the river before they foul the river even more, causing a drop in oxygen levels, and killing any fish that remain3. It is a disaster of massive proportions, and simply brings into sharp relief the Coalition’s inability to understand the concept of ‘environment’, let alone deal with it.
So what does Morrison do in the face of this disaster? Nothing, except raise a distraction; one to do with Australia Day, yet again. He has railed against local councils after a few of them voted to move citizenship events to other days out of respect for Indigenous Australians, and has stated that they will be forced to hold citizenship events on January 26. Morrison has also stated that he will institute a dress code that bans thongs and board shorts, and has insisted that he is the “prime minister for standards”. It is a shame that his adherence to standards only concerns the calendar and clothing and does not include stewardship of the environment, preventing rorting of parliamentary allowances, and adherence to the constitution.