7 – Connecting the champions of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers 79 A proposed water resource development at Currareva Waterhole on the Cooper Creek near Windorah in 1995 (Fig. 7.3) galvanised what was then disparate pastoral, conservation, government and scientific communities to protect the Lake Eyre Basin’s magnificent rivers (Chapter 17 Table 7.1). It rapidly healed a schism created by the proposed World Heritage nomination of the South Australian part of the Lake Eyre Basin (Table 7.1), which sought global acknowledgement of the region’s outstanding cultural and environmental values (Reid 1994 Morton et al. 1995), but which had failed to effectively engage regional communities. The proposed Currareva irrigation development, as it became known, was not the first development of the river, but it had the potential to expand into a large-scale irrigation enterprise, with devastating social and ecological consequences (Kingsford et al. 1998 see Chapter 17). The community response saw the formation of the Cooper’s Creek Protection Group in 1995 (see Chapter 17) to challenge the then Queensland Government’s typical approach of developing water resources for irrigation without appropriate assessment of the potential impacts. The group, with conservationists and scientists, convened a scientific workshop in 1996 to look at the potential risks of major water resource development on the Lake Eyre Basin rivers and their significant natural and cultural values (Kingsford et al. 1998 Table 7.1). There were comparisons drawn to the neighbouring Murray–Darling Basin, with its degraded rivers and impacts on ecosystem services and livelihoods (Kingsford 2000 see Chapters 14–17). The workshop communique was sent as an open letter to the Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, calling upon governments to reject large-scale irrigation proposals because of unacceptable risks to the environment, cultural resources and people of Desert Channels Queensland South Australian Arid Lands Natural Resources Management Board Territory Natural Resource Management (a) Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum Community Advisory Committee Scientific Advisory Panel SOG (b) Lake Eyre Basin Secretariat Fig. 7.2. Main formal partnerships within the Lake Eyre Basin, from 2000 onwards, supporting (a) natural resource management through the three regional bodies in the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia (b) the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement with two external bodies, the Community Advisory Committee and the Scientific Advisory Panel advising ministers in the Australian Government and the governments of the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia through a ministerial forum, supported by a senior officers group (SOG) from each government, chaired by the Australian Government. The natural resource management bodies recommend members from pastoral, Aboriginal and agricultural communities to the Community Advisory Committee. Arrows indicate formal and informal collaboration. Collaboration among the Community Advisory Committee, Scientific Advisory Panel and government officers delivers key outcomes for the sustainable management of the river basin.
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