Walgett taking Day of Action to demand response from government to water situation

OUT OF WATER: A dry stretch of the Namoi River that runs into Walgett. PHOTO: Western Advocate
OUT OF WATER: A dry stretch of the Namoi River that runs into Walgett. PHOTO: Western Advocate

Walgett Local Aboriginal Land Council (WLALC) is hosting the Walgett Day of Action on March 3 to advocate for change regarding the water situation in the western, north western and central regions of NSW.

Residents from Walgett, Moree, Collarenebri, Lightning Ridge, Gilgandra, Coonamble, Gulargambone, Barradine, Mungindi, Narrabri, Wee Waa, Gunnedah, Pilliga, Boggabilla and Toomelah will stand together and call on the government to take action on the dire water situation.

The WLALC are demanding:​

  • The establishment of a Commonwealth Royal Commission into the management of the Murray Darling Basin
  • A State Level inquiry to address the mismanagement of water and our river systems in NSW
  • A suspension of trading in the Barwon Darling River System
  • Aboriginal involvement, through the Land Council network, in all decisions about water management and planning

The idea was created to take serious action at a forum in Dubbo between 25 local Aboriginal Land Councils and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.

"Essentially it came about after the the loss of all the fish from Menindee but also the river systems across the Murray Darling basin, they're under a great deal of stress," WLALC CEO Kelli Randall said.

"If change doesn't occur under state or federal level, there's going to be a lot more than just fish kill along those rivers."

Whilst the initial response from the community has been a little measured, the WLALC is still expecting over 1000 people to attend.

"It is a little bit slow in the sense that people are just not sure of what to do," Mrs Randall said.

"But we have had great feedback from around different areas."

The group will gather at the Aboriginal Land Council building, before marching to the Namoi River and then back to the land council for a barbecue.

"Symbolically there's been discussions about it being projected as a funeral for the river, having a coffin laid in the river bed and flowers thrown on." Mrs Randall said.

"We're just trying to get as much media attention to say the river may not be dead at the moment but if the change doesn't happen it's going to be a serious or dire situation."

The March will begin at the Walgett Local Aboriginal Land Council building at 10.30 on Sunday, March 3.