12 March 2014
Scrapping the Save the River Murray levy without an alternative funding source for essential works will seriously hamper the state government’s ability to respond to the next drought, says the Conservation Council of South Australia, the state’s peak environment body.
The Liberal party has announced they will remove the levy if elected.
The government department that manages the proceeds of the levy, the Department for Water, Environment and Natural resources, is already facing devastating funding cuts of nearly $40 million over the next 12 months. The River Murray levy was forecast to bring in $27 million in the same period. Removing the levy without providing alternative funds to protect the health of the River will only extend the devastation caused by these funding cuts.
Chief Executive Craig Wilkins said it was surprising and disappointing the Murray River has hardly been mentioned so far in this election campaign.
“The River Murray is our state’s lifeblood. If ever there was a natural asset that needs attention from our political leaders, it is the Murray.
“We fear that without a clear funding source, and transparent reporting of spending, essential projects to improve the Murray River system will be quietly shelved.
“The savage funding cuts to the SA environment portfolio include the state’s water agency. This means a loss of expertise and essential services for protecting our water resources.
“We call on both Labor and Liberal to explain how they will prioritise funding for the Murray.
“South Australians have said loud and clear they want to ensure the ongoing health of our most important water source.
“For the driest state, with future drought inevitable, there is no more important issue for this election campaign,” he said.
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