Reportage

Let the river flow

Building a new politics for the Murray-Darling

THE TWO MEN stand knee-deep in river water the colour of pickled cucumbers.

‘My name is Dick Arnold and I’m here with Rob McBride for this really sad bloody shot here…’

Dick, closer to the camera than Rob, wears a grey camouflage-pattern cap with sunglasses perched on the crown. The hat casts his face in shadow as he pauses before adding:

…caused by the government, an environmental disaster, and look at these iconic fish of Australia, being treated like this, you’d have to be bloody disgusted with yourself. You politicians and cotton grower manipulators, it’s bloody atrocious.

As Dick talks, Rob coughs repeatedly; he looks like he’s going to wretch. The fish to which Dick is referring are Murray cod, each more than a metre long. They’re fatter than watermelons and the men hold them curled in their forearms. The fish are dead and they’ve whitened, a phenomenon caused by the rapid decay of chromatophores, the reflective and pigment-containing cells found in the skins of animals. These creatures are rigid, their huge mouths agape as though caught in the midst of a piscine scream.

Rob speaks next, his voice lower:

This is nothing to do with drought. This is a man-made disaster brought to you by the New South Wales Government, the federal government and the Murray-Darling Authority.

The two talk in tandem, interrupting each other with exclamations of agreement and outrage. It isn’t polished. The fury and emotion are raw and deep-rooted, rising from the men who are physically embedded in the muculent flow, and rearing up like an anguished creature, disturbed from the riverbed.

They put down the fish and try to swish the slime from their forearms. Rob tells the camera operator – his daughter, Kate McBride – to pan back, showing more bleached bodies, bloated and drifting along the gum-lined riverbank.

‘These are just two of the many,’ says Rob. ‘This is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life. This has got to get out to the world press.’

Dick makes one last comment in a voice of unwanted witness: ‘Look at ’em. It’s…it makes me feel like crying again.’

The video was posted on Tolarno Station’s Facebook page on 7 January 2019. Within four and a half hours, the clip had more than a million views, which had increased more than sixfold at the time of writing.[i] Over the next forty-eight hours, the story of the vast numbers of fish dying in the Menindee Lakes system and the Darling River was reported widely across global media, making apparent the amplitude and foul spectacle of the disaster. The vision of Dick and Rob, as well as a slew of new images depicting some of the million or so dead creatures floating upside down in the water, putrefying, elicited a universal revulsion. The images were what Greenpeace founder Bob Hunter termed a ‘mind bomb’, disorienting the viewer and sending a collective shock through the public consciousness.

Over the subsequent days and weeks, scientists and other experts were asked to explain how this abhorrent thing had happened. Fish kills had occurred before in Australia, but never on this scale. The immediate cause was sudden changes in the water composition driven by extreme temperatures – meaning there was not enough oxygen for the fish to breathe. Conditions leading to these sudden alterations were a combination of extreme drought and the upstream diversion of water for irrigation, the latter under the aegis of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. And behind the missing water, appalling heat and severe drought lay the meta-problem of global warming: ‘Exceptional climatic conditions, unparalleled in the observed climate record.’[ii]

The explanations – analytically clear, yet technocratic in tone – were ill-matched to the visceral nature of the images depicting the carnage. An ABC explainer assembled ‘four experts working in the fields of river ecology, policy, management and economics’. They referred to a failure to ‘manage’ the river caused by not putting ‘enough environmental water aside’ and by getting the ‘sustainable diversion limits’ wrong. One observed that there was ‘a lot of complexity around this fish kill’.[iii] A second ABC brief to the public noted that authorities still needed ‘to conduct a full audit of how many fish died’ and warned readers that, in trying to spell out what had transpired, inevitably ‘things get really complicated (sorry!)’. The death, it seemed, was in the details. The responses, though clearly knowledgeable, still felt jarring. What had happened at the Menindee Lakes was obscene – a foul blasphemy against life that rendered technical diagnosis, necessary though it was, wholly inadequate.

 

NEW SOUTH WALES is shaped roughly like a fat piece of pie, with the apex of the slice cut short by the South Australian border. The storied town of Broken Hill is twelve hundred kilometres inland from the coastal crust edge of the state. If you fly in, it’s another hour and a bit doubling back south-east to get to Menindee. Some weeks after the ecological catastrophe of the fish kill, I visited the town with a colleague from Greenpeace to spend time with members of the local community and bear witness to what had taken place.

The ethic of witnessing, deeply ingrained within Greenpeace’s campaign work, implies not only moral opposition to environmental destruction, but a kind of truth-telling that goes beyond surface description. The intent is not just to record or verify what is physically being done to people and to nature – though this is the crucial first step – but also to document and expose the mechanics of causation, decision-making and power; the deeper veracities of who, how and why. The purpose is also to relate, with as much fidelity as possible, the meaning of things beyond scientific function and anthropocentric use value – this is a witnessing infused with love for the inherent magnificence of nature and confidence in people’s innate propensity for goodness. It mourns the wounds inflicted and demands action for recovery, regeneration and wise stewardship. This mission goes determinedly against the contemporary trends of commodification and instrumentalism that characterise nature as a provider of ‘valuable ecosystem services’ and people as ‘human capital’.

Menindee is a town of bare ground and corrugated iron with some mature trees planted in better times offering delicious shade. It’s the traditional country of the Barkandji people, but colonial intrusion began early in the nineteenth century. Major Thomas Mitchell, Charles Sturt, and Burke and Wills all passed through, the latter carving an arrow into the doorpost of the local hotel to indicate their ill-fated direction. The township was formally gazetted in 1863, but nineteenth-century rushes and fantasies of gold, river trading and a booming hinterland eventually met with the realities of the Australian interior: always hard, though not as harsh as now, with the advent of global warming.[iv] Today, the town has around 500 inhabitants who are holding on as the service and community hub for the surrounding district and because this is their home.[v] Painted signs have been strapped up here and there calling angry attention to the rolling disaster: ‘No Water, No River, No Lakes’ reads one, its royal-blue letters hand-painted on a burnt-orange panel with a white fish skeleton in the bottom corner.

We meet our guides – one of whom is Rob McBride – by the side of Menindee’s main road. Rob, a fourth-generation grazier, owns Tolarno, a pastoral station about an hour from town, as well as the adjoining Peppora and Wyoming properties. All rely on the Darling River. Rob’s a big-framed, bluff man, a confident speaker, and today he wears a broad-brimmed bush hat and a collared shirt adorned with the Tolarno logo.[vi] Also with us is Megan Williams, a young environmental campaigner from Friends of the Earth in Melbourne, who’s here to work alongside the local community and is impressive in her dedication. Together we make our way around a set of key locations in four-wheel drives. Our hosts are patient with their explanations and generous with their time. It’s hot, of course; around 40 degrees. By the end of the day, even though I think I have been drinking water constantly, I feel nauseous from dehydration.

The Menindee Lakes are a chain of seven natural basins connected to the Darling River. They always used to fill when rain was plentiful, but were significantly modified for catchment purposes under the Menindee Water Conservation Act 1949 (NSW), with all work completed by 1968. If full, the lakes can hold three and a half times the amount of water in Sydney Harbour and cover an area of approximately fifty square kilometres. At the time of writing, Water NSW recorded their overall level at 0.9 per cent of capacity.[vii]

Our first stops give a sense of the mechanics of the Menindee Lakes: an evaporation measurement pan, weirs and dam walls. Mid-morning, we arrive at Copi Hollow, a channel connecting Lake Menindee with Lake Pamamaroo. It’s a spot intended for recreation rather than utility. In good times, people swim and play here, and it has been the venue for the national inland speedboat championships. An Australian flag flies from the boat house, flapping and slapping against the pole in the hot gusts of wind. Now bathing and other water sports are banned because of a red-alert warning for blue-green algae, which can cause skin irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and headaches and, in the most severe cases, can even be deadly. But the signs advertising the threat are missing, and our guides express worry that families won’t know the danger and will swim anyway. One lone group is picnicking under a shade hut that looks robust, but is nonetheless struggling in the breeze. Later, on the other side of Pamamaroo, I see one of the warnings bolted to a mature river gum:

WARNING.
HARMFUL ALGAE MAY BE PRESENT IN THIS WATER
CONTACT MAY CAUSE SERIOUS HARM TO
HUMANS AND ANIMALS

The symbols underneath denote drinking, canoeing, swimming, fishing and a watering animal, with a red cross through each. Anyone wanting more information is invited to call ‘THE RESPONSIBLE AUTHORITY’ or ‘THE ALGAL INFORMATION LINE’, though the number for the latter has been crossed out with black marker pen.

Back on the road, we pass several large wooden white crosses, spread out, each taller than an adult. At first I assume these mark the location of traffic fatalities, but Rob explains the truth: the memorials have been erected by locals, despairing at the fate of the river and the lakes. They stand not only as acts of mourning, but as monuments of indictment: the Darling River and the Menindee Lakes are being killed violently. We are at the edge of a kind of ecological Calvary. Later, at an embankment on the fringe of the empty depression that should be Lake Pamamaroo, we discover that one of the monuments has fallen or been pushed to the ground. I stand near the fallen cross and look out to where there is no water. The zephyr feels brutal now, drying my skin and eyes, the dust from the lake bed stinging. The tawny earth is bare and hard under the toppled crucifix, and the sparse copses of dehydrated trees look dark and lifeless, as if they have been burnt.

We break for lunch at a local diner – Rob insists we have the fish and chips, which is counter-intuitively good given that we are more than a thousand kilometres from the ocean. It isn’t local produce – nobody’s eaten anything caught from the river for some time. Then we go back out into the heat to see, literally, the end of the Darling River.

In the pool above Weir 32, where Kate McBride shot that footage of her dad and Dick Arnold, there’s no sign of the dead fish that were scooped out in tonnes. I had wondered about the location of the grave of a million dead animals, but our guides don’t know where the bodies were dumped.[viii] We do see some enormous living carp, wallowing and stirring up the mud, the hardy intruders that have so effectively displaced Australia’s indigenous fish species. But the remains of the native animals have almost entirely gone. It is only lower down, beyond the weir, where we see a few remnants – bleached white in the sun – on the silt of the vanished stream. I pick up one mummified Murray cod head, jaw jutting, skin stretched tight, eye sockets empty. So quickly do the living and vital desiccate. At this place of the fish’s skull, I’m losing the sense of what to ask or say in the face of the river’s end.

At last, we walk slowly together towards the spot, one hundred or so metres away, where the water course fades into verdant sludge before the last of the moisture disappears altogether. There are empty mussel shells here, dry and shiny, bigger than my fist. They’re ghost houses now, but still embedded in the dirt as if clinging on. The husk of the river remains, with tree-lined banks and a sedimentary bed, but the flesh and the spirit of the water have departed.

 

WHAT CAUSES REVOLUTIONS? Every historical context is unique, but there are commonalities. Some variation of economic and social pressure is felt by an aggrieved population, increasingly alienated from the structures and ideology of the ruling regime. In such circumstances, institutions and offices of governance begin to lose their legitimacy, and conditions can become ripe for political upheaval. The empty words of distrusted authorities become unbearable in the context of a mass collective experience of injustice and suffering. Circumstances tighten, and structures of power that seemed eternal or inviolable can disintegrate – sometimes astonishingly quickly. It may be only with hindsight that the signs of collapse can be discerned amid what appeared to contemporaries to be a settled social and economic order.

In Menindee, as the river runs dry, trust is also evaporating. Reflexive scepticism spills through our conversations with Rob and other locals across the day. One bloke manages to get me on the phone, having heard that ‘Greenpeace is in town’, to tell me his own stories of things in disarray, of governments and corporations endangering people’s safety through their actions. What scientific analysis of the fish kill source cannot contain are the political and ideological foundations of the catastrophe. This omission is not made by our hosts, for whom the villains in all this are clear; it is the water speculators and cotton farmers – ‘the northern masters’, Rob calls them with contempt – and the particular politicians whom they’ve captured who are to blame. The real agenda, it is said, is entirely avaricious: the complete ‘decommissioning’ of the Menindee Lakes to take the water for elsewhere.[ix] I’m struck, though, that none of the local residents with whom we speak are writing off all politicians. Indeed, some candidates and sitting members from both right and left are given praise, including Roy Butler, the local Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party contender. I’m not altogether surprised when, a few weeks later, Butler wins the state seat of Barwon with a two-party-preferred swing of almost 20 per cent.[x] Other politicians, though – like then state Minister for Regional Water Niall Blair and federal ‘drought envoy’ Barnaby Joyce – are referred to with spitting disgust. Just days after the fish kill, Blair avoided a meeting with furious Menindee locals, instead zooming past an assembled crowd of locals on a speedboat.[xi]

The mega-death of animals at Menindee wasn’t an accident; it was the foreseeable consequence of vested interests getting their way at the expense of the common good. At the most fundamental level, the Murray-Darling and the people and animals of the river are being sacrificed by a prevailing system of extractivism, commoditisation and managerialism – facilitated by an often opaque bureaucratic and political framework that privileges those who most benefit from the status quo. Even global warming, the violent father of record heat and drought, is not itself a root cause, but the consequence of a range of deliberate decisions by political and corporate leaders who prefer to foster the ongoing presence and expansion of the coal industry – the number one driver of Australia’s climate emergency – and the other major sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan itself, launched with the laudable aim of achieving a sustainable and healthy river system for current and future generations, has been institutionally perverted by vested interests able to game the managerial and market logic of the scheme.[xii] As the writer and critic Guy Rundle identified, the ‘tradeable rights that were built into the system became a series of mind-bending boondoggles and led to the perpetuation of forms of agriculture that should have been phased out for the general health of the system’. Instead, ‘the commodification of a common entity did what it always does: utterly corrupted the management of it.’[xiii] What’s left is a kind of grey zone, where the slow violence of extractivist logic is played out and made manifest in the asphyxiation of ancient fish and the grief and anger of those left to lament the dry riverbed.

Beyond the ecological crisis, the indignities heaped on Menindee and the other nearest population centres are stark and compounding, undermining faith in institutions and governance. There has been the usual withdrawal of government support and businesses associated with neoliberal cost-cutting agendas over the last thirty years. But the sense of abandonment is heightened by the absence of any local democratic representation. The Central Darling Shire Council – with a website that greets you with a picture of a burnt-out truck – took on the responsibility for dumping the dead fish.[xiv] However, the council itself was suspended in 2013 due to fiscal crisis – Australia’s first instance of a local government’s financial failure.[xv] The shire will remain in administration until 2024.

There are also doubts over the provision of the very essentials of life. There’s a strong local suspicion that Menindee’s remaining drinking water supplies aren’t potable. The council administrator and state government have given assurances, but these are accompanied by the less than reassuring requirement that all townsfolk who wish to have Menindee Standpipe Treated Water must sign a written indemnity. When I first hear, in conversation over our fish and chips, that townsfolk must promise in writing that they will not sue the government if they become sick as a consequence of drinking this water, I’m incredulous. Then someone passes me a copy of the form:

The customer hereby indemnifies…Central Darling Shire Council, Government of New South Wales and their successors, employees, agents and representatives against (including all legal costs) all liability, actions, proceedings, claims, accounts, suits and demands which may be made upon them or any of them for or in respect of physical injury or harm to persons in any way relating to or arising in any way out of the customers taking of water under this deed or otherwise.

There are already stories circulating about eczema and dermatitis being caused or worsened by the drinking supplies. The greatest fear, though, is that the blue-green algae outbreaks are responsible for a statistically anomalous and frightening spike in the prevalence of motor neurone disease among local residents, a hypothesis that is being actively investigated by scientists.[xvi]

Things are even worse two hours north-east, up the road at the town of Wilcannia, which is also within the Central Darling Shire. There, the water has already entirely run out and is being trucked in and the river has stopped flowing altogether. The majority of the population is Indigenous – the contemporary demographic heart of the Barkandji people on their own country. Professor Heidi Norman, a historian from the University of Technology Sydney, visited Wilcannia in early 2019, observing that ‘the impact of colonisation cannot be measured as a moment, but rather as an enduring process’ and that the ‘environmental catastrophe of the river holds in its grip the future of Barkandji people’.[xvii] Michael Kennedy, chair of Wilcannia Local Aboriginal Land Council, told Norman:

our people lived here for thousands of years. They drank the water from out of this river, they lived off this river, this river fed us. It gave us water, it gave us life. And now, you know in the last 200 years, it’s gone to nothing, it’s just a dry, dead river bed… The fish, the mussels, the yabbies; the bird life isn’t here anymore like it used to be. You hear a few birds chirping now but that’s nothing compared to what it used to be. Everything, it’s affecting everything.

Life expectancy for an Aboriginal man in Wilcannia is thirty-seven.[xviii] The community has been driven to desperate protest at the loss of the river they know as the Barka, including briefly blockading the highway out of town.[xix]

The investigative reporting and official inquiries that punctuated the first nine months of 2019 largely validated what we heard from Rob and others about greed and mismanagement, building on material already in the public domain. In late January 2019, the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission established by the South Australian Government found that Commonwealth officials had committed gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions.[xx] In June, a Four Corners investigation revealed what appeared to be a complex network of vested interests and politicians hijacking the apparatus of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to run what is basically a scam for private gain.[xxi] Richard Beasley SC, who served as counsel assisting the South Australian Royal Commission, told Four Corners that the entire scheme had become ‘a rort’:

The Commissioner directly recommended that the whole scheme first of all be stopped, because it probably doesn’t work, and it probably isn’t recovering water, and it is a huge expense to taxpayers but the auditor general should investigate the entire scheme. Who’s been given the money, why and what is the scientific evidence, the scientific basis in relation to what amount of water is claimed to have been recovered from individual schemes or from the scheme overall. There’s no transparency at all.

Summarising the situation, Professor Richard Kingsford from UNSW told the same program that while the ‘broader Australian public asked, demanded that governments do something about the rivers of the Murray-Darling’, what had happened was a ‘degrading [of] the rivers at the same time as we’re handing out money to a few individuals to realise huge economic gains at public cost’. In August, the NSW Natural Resources Commission found that it is indeed the big irrigators who are taking almost 90 per cent of the water from the Barwon and Darling rivers.[xxii] Further mass fish deaths are feared for this summer and may have already occurred by the time of publication.[xxiii] In September, Mick Keelty, recently appointed interim inspector-general for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, noted what had become obvious: that institutional corruption was destroying faith in the system.[xxiv] The failure of trust is plain: it’s stated frankly in reports and embodied in drying rivers, failing towns, choking animals and people who are sick in both body and heart.

 

ACCORDING TO THE prophet Ezekiel, where the river flows, everything will live. ‘You work out where the water should be,’ Rob told me in Menindee, ‘and start from there.’ Months later, Kate McBride had her own moment of viral fame when she spectacularly confronted the sophistry of Commonwealth Minister for Water Resources David Littleproud on the ABC’s Q&A.[xxv] Later, on breakfast television, the younger McBride was asked what should happen right now to return the river to health. She answered: ‘We need to make sure we are actually allowing water to flow down the river.’[xxvi]

It’s time to keep this really simple: our greatest river system is being starved of water and destroyed. The river and the lakes need their water back.

The latest national State of the Environment report indicates that it is not only the Murray-Darling that’s at risk. All Australia’s rivers are deteriorating, with worsening climate change damage expected.[xxvii] Nonetheless, both nature and human society are capable of the most astonishing renewal and regeneration if given the chance and conditions to prosper.

What would happen if we began to fight for a common agenda that did not seek salvation through bureaucratic tweaking, but instead sought to entirely overhaul the existing order? With this approach, rebuilding trust, reinvesting in local communities and restoring our ecosystems would become entwined within the same vision of wise stewardship. Around 2.6 million people live within the Murray-Darling Basin, including members of forty distinct Indigenous polities.[xxviii] Numerous creatures rely on the land and waters of our continent’s greatest river system, which also supports the majority of Australia’s terrestrial food production. All this is in jeopardy – a state of risk that is becoming rapidly and radically worse as the severe impacts of climate damage accelerate. We need a systems-level response at a speed and scale apt for these extraordinary times. Everything else is simply messing about while the river dies.

We must let the river flow. Governance should follow that imperative and return power to local communities, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, all charged with maintaining the lakes and rivers as custodians of the public trust. The long perspective and rights of traditional owners must be central to the project. As Heidi Norman has argued, the situation in places like Menindee and Wilcannia ‘calls for a new order of government, with alternative economies and a central role for the Barkandji worldview’.[xxix] Investing in regeneration would not only create new jobs and industries, but help revive the culture and communities of the Central Darling Shire and beyond. And all this, of course, would need to be supported by the rapid transition to a carbon-neutral world to halt, and eventually reverse, global warming.

It must, surely, be possible to build a platform of solidarity among all the communities of the Murray-Darling Basin in pursuit of restoring and remaking the river lands. We need to build a new politics of our greatest river based on the public good – one that embraces a better deal for people and the restoration of nature as a cornerstone contribution to the future flourishing of Australia. It is a project that is both achievable and necessary. The river should be reconceptualised: no longer seen as a commodity to be managed and traded and exploited, but as a wild body of fresh water that brings life to the earth, deserving of our care as humble custodians.

The time has come for us to embrace an ethic of stewardship; to come to the banks of the river with humility, love and wonder; to succour the Barka.

And to let the river flow.

 

 

I would like to sincerely thank Rob and Katharine McBride for their time and patience in helping with this article. I would also like to deeply thank the other informants who were so kind with their time and honesty, but who preferred to stay out of the narrative of this piece. And thanks also to my Greenpeace colleague Sophia Fowler, who assisted with all stages of the logistics.

 

 

References

[i] Cockburn, P. and Nguyen, K. (2019). ‘Mass fish deaths at Menindee sparks viral video as Minister receives threats’, ABC News, 9 January. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-09/menindee-mass-fish-deaths-spark-blame-game/10699734

[ii] Vertessy, R. et al, (2019). Independent assessment of the 2018-19 fish deaths in the lower Darling. Murray–Darling Basin Authority, p.10. Available at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/sites/default/files/pubs/Final-Report-Independent-Panel-fish-deaths-lower%20Darling_4.pdf

[iii] Kilvert, N. (2019). ‘“Drought, climate change and mismanagement”: What experts think caused the death of a million Menindee fish’, ABC News, 16 January. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-01-16/what-caused-menindee-fish-kill-drought-water-mismanagement/10716080

[iv] Yes, Australia has always been a ‘sunburnt country,’ but the data is unequivocal: things are getting much tougher very rapidly because of global warming. The definitive study is Gergis, J. (2018). Sunburnt Country: The History and Future of Climate Change in Australia, Carlton: MUP.

[v] Central Darling Shire Council (n.d.). A place built by a fascinating history. Available at: http://www.centraldarling.nsw.gov.au/about-the-shire/towns-within-the-shire/menindee-history.aspx

[vi] Rob was not our only informant, but others preferred not to be mentioned by name in the retelling of this story and their privacy has been respected.

[vii] Water NSW (n.d.). Menindee Lakes: A series of lakes along the Darling River. Available at: https://www.waternsw.com.au/supply/visit/menindee-lakes; Murray–Darling Basin Authority (2019). About Menindee Lakes. Available at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/river-information/running-river-murray/menindee-lakes

[viii] The NSW Department of Primary Industries engaged a contractor to remove the fish from the water and the animal remains were trucked away to be used as landfill.

Gooley, C. (2019). ‘Menindee rotting fish clean-up to begin next week’, ABC News, 15 January. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-12/menindee-dead-fish-cleanup-could-take-five-days/1071097

[ix] See Davies, A. and Bowers, M. (2019). ‘The pipeline plan that will drain the lower Darling River dry’, The Guardian, 23 January. Availabe at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/23/the-pipeline-plan-that-will-drain-the-lower-darling-river-dry

[x] Australian Electoral Commission (2019). House of Representatives – final results. Available at: https://results.aec.gov.au/24310/Website/HouseDefault-24310.htm

[xi] Cockburn, P. (2019). ‘Menindee mass fish death fury escalates, NSW Police and Minister at odds’, ABC News, 15 January. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-10/niall-blair-accused-of-ignoring-menindee-locals-about-fish-kill/10701766

[xii] Murray–Darling Basin Authority (2019). A plan for the Murray-Darling Basin. Available at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/basin-plan/plan-murray-darling-basin

[xiii] Rundle, G. (2019). ‘A proposal for real change in rural Australia’, Crikey, 13 February. Available at: https://www.crikey.com.au/2019/02/13/murray-darling-rural-australia/

[xiv] Central Darling Shire Council (n.d.). A place built by a fascinating history. Available at: http://www.centraldarling.nsw.gov.au/about-the-shire/towns-within-the-shire/menindee-history.aspx

[xv] Drew, J. and Campbell, N. (2016) ‘Autopsy of Municipal Failure: the case of Central Darling Shire’, Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 22(1) p. 79. Available at: https://www.anzrsai.org/assets/Uploads/PublicationChapter/AJRS-22.1-pages-079-to-102.pdf

[xvi] Tomevska, S. (2019). ‘Motor neurone disease link to algae toxin exposure a developing path of research, scientists say’, ABC News, 28 March. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-28/scientists-say-link-between-algae-and-mnd-needs-further-look/10943826

[xvii] Norman, H. (2019). ‘Friday essay: Death on the Darling, colonialism’s final encounter with the Barkandji’, The Conversation, 5 April. Available at: https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-death-on-the-darling-colonialisms-final-encounter-with-the-barkandji-114275

[xviii] Feik, N. (2019). ‘Wilcannia: The town with no water’, The Saturday Paper, 9 March. Available at: https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/rural/2019/03/09/wilcannia-the-town-with-no-water/15520500007800

[xix] Wainwright, S. and Volkofsky, A. (2018). ‘Drying up of the Darling River angers community, sparks second protest’, ABC News, 2 April. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-01/drying-up-darling-river-angers-community-sparks-protest/9608644

[xx] McCarthy, M. et al. (2019). ‘Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission slams authority for “maladministration”, ABC News, 1 February. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-31/murray-darling-basin-plan-ignored-potentially-catastrophic-risks/10766106

[xxi] Rubinsztein-Dunlop, S. (2019). ‘Cash Splash- Four Corners’, Four Corners, 8 July. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/cash-splash/11289412

[xxii] Davies, A. (2019). ‘Big irrigators take 86% of water extracted from Barwon-Darling, report finds’, The Guardian, 21 August. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/21/big-irrigators-take-86-of-water-from-barwon-darling-report-finds

[xxiii] Holman, J. (2019). ‘Fears for even worse fish kills this summer’, ABC Radio National: The World Today, 12 August. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/worldtoday/fears-for-even-worse-fish-kills-this-summer/11405040

[xxiv] Gribbin, C. and Jasper, C. (2019). ‘Murray-Darling Basin corruption undermining faith in $13b plan, Mick Keelty says’, ABC News, 3 September. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2019-09-03/mick-keelty-southern-murray-darling-basin-tour/11470352

[xxv] (2019). ‘The Drought’, Q&A, 28 October. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/qanda/2019-28-10/11624850

[xxvi] @studio10au (2010). ‘“You keep saying…’, Twitter, 29 October. Available at: https://twitter.com/Studio10au/status/1188958192438579200?s=20

[xxvii] Argent, R.M. (2016). ‘Recent Climate: Inland Water (2016)’, Australia: State of the Environment. Available at: https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/inland-water/topic/2016/recent-climate

[xxviii] Murray-Darling Basin Authority, (n.d.) Discover the Basin. Available at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/discover-basin

[xxix] Norman, H. (2019). ‘Friday essay: Death on the Darling, colonialism’s final encounter with the Barkandji’, The Conversation, 5 April. Available at: https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-death-on-the-darling-colonialisms-final-encounter-with-the-barkandji-114275

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