A delegation of lower Darling River pastoralists, an aboriginal elder and officials say they were “snubbed” by the Berejiklian government when trying to present a petition calling for a moratorium on the building of the Broken Hill water pipeline.
The group is planning to blockade construction of the pipeline at works currently underway near Wentworth. The action is planned for next Thursday, February 15.
Pipes have already arrived for construction of the $467m pipeline to connect Broken Hill to a Murray River water source, which the NSW Government says is vital.
The pipeline is opposed by the Broken Hill City Council and by farmers at Menindee Lakes who say the pipeline is a precursor to degradation of water supplies to Menindee.
Tolarno grazier Katharine McBride said she was disappointed the Premier Gladys Berejiklian could not find time to talk to the delegation when they arrived at NSW Parliament in Sydney on Tuesday.
Instead the group met with Labor’s Water spokesman Chris Minns and Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham who both agreed to table the 13,000 strong petition in Parliament.
Ms McBride said the included Barkindji elder Uncle Badger Bates whose people hold land rights over some of the planned route and are opposed to the pipeline.
“What we want is a moratorium on the pipeline until we get to the bottom of these allegations of water theft raised in the Four Corners program,” Ms McBride said.
“The Premier declined our request to meet with her and so we met with Labor and the Greens. Our petition was directly to the Premier, so we were very disappointed.” A meeting with Water Minister Niall Blair was also rejected.
Ms McBride said Mr Blair had agreed to provide the business plan for the pipelene to Broken Hill council last month, but had still not supplied the information.
“We have been calling for consultation on the pipeline and possible changes to water supplies to Menindee lakes but there has been nothing. If water is taken away form the Menindee system that will be the deathknell for our farms, with significantly more periods of dry for us and an uncertain future.”
"We think the pipeline will be a disaster for our region and for Broken Hill. Our voices aren't being heard and our river is dying. One concern is the 270-kilometre pipeline, drawing water from the Murray at Wentworth, will allow the government to decommission at least three of the four Menindee Lakes that now provide water to the far western NSW city, but also help maintain downstream flows on the Darling.”
The Darling River Action group is liaising with police on how to undertake a lawful blockade of the pipeline construction at Wentworth.