• Aboriginal man, Bruce Shillingsworth on Q&A. (Q&A)
A Murawari Budjiti man delivers a raw and emotional message to the government, as both farmers and Aboriginal leaders take aim at the federal Minister for Water Resources and Drought.
By
Douglas Smith

Source:
NITV News
29 Oct 2019 - 3:18 PM  UPDATED 29 Oct 2019 - 3:21 PM

The federal minister for water and drought heard from farmers and Aboriginal leaders during last night's episode of Q&A on the ABC, with one Murawari Budjiti man delivering a scathing message about "water mismanagement and corruption" along the Baaka (Darling River).  

During the episode, Minister David Littleproud was told of the terrible effect that water resource management and drought was having on local communities.

Aboriginal activist Bruce Shillingsworth, a self proclaimed "water warrior" who had just returned from the Yaama Ngunna Baaka Corroboree, said he had travelled with a large convoy through Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke, Wilcannia and Menindee, to discuss the impact of having no water. 

“The impact of the water mismanagement and the corruption and the corporate greed and capitalism in this country has killed our rivers," said Mr Shillingsworth.

Mr Shillingsworth said he was going to speak and "raise a voice" for his community who "have been voiceless over the last 230-years."

“Why are our people dying young? Why are our people suffering because of the greed - The taking of our water.

“Where is our rights to water… First Nation rights to water?

“We have a right to freshwater… put the water back in the river. Not just for us, but for the environment," he said. 

Paakantyi Elder, Badger Bates from Willcannia also appeared via video message, standing on an empty and dry stretch of the Baaka. He asked Minister Littleproud when he was going to put water back and guarantee that the Baaka will flow again. 

Mr Littleproud responded by saying, "the first thing is, it has to rain."

"We have a serious supply issue. I’m sorry, I can’t make it rain, and the only thing that will get the water running into those rivers is stuff from the sky," he said. 

"That is a serious, serious issue that we’ve got. And until we fix the supply, there are going to be constraints on that. I’m sorry, I can’t lie to you."

Following Mr Littleproud's response, Menindee farmer, Kate McBride asked if the minister would ensure that when it did rain, the water would "actually get down to places like Wilcannia".

"I mean, I know Badger. I’ve been out to Wilcannia. I know the people out there. The male life expectancy of that town is 37. How are we not fixing those issues," she said. 

A report released in March by the Australian National University claimed the Federal Government had grossly exaggerated the amount of water being returned to the system via water savings.

According to the report, the government estimated around 700 gigalitres (700 billion litres), however, new calculations by ANU suggested it was more likely 70 gigalitres, just one-tenth of the official estimate. 

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