8 Looking after the rivers a view from nearly 50 000 years of experience 101 this region. Strangely enough, the very reason driving the economic sustainability decisions could very well destroy this region. What I, and many others, believe is that this region needs the water flows, as well as their pristine qualities, to remain as they are to ensure economic sustainability. The removal of the Liberal National Party from power in January 2015 provided us with a new opportunity to reclaim sustainability for these rivers and revisit the public policies that gave them protection, particularly the Wild Rivers legislation. In recent years, the political arguments about Wild Rivers legislation have been dominated by the views of Aboriginal leaders in northern Queensland. If Aboriginal representatives in northern Queensland desire something different to us, then we support their vision, as I would hope they would support ours. These two regions are vastly different in all aspects: culturally, economically, environmentally and socially. We Aboriginal representatives of the Channel Country have a different view. We believe that the Wild Rivers declaration for the Lake Eyre Basin rivers protected these rivers for future generations, reflecting our people’s custodianship for tens of thousands of years. As well, it enables us and others to engage in development activities in this region while significantly reducing the chances of the destruction of these important waterways. Culturally the waters of the Lake Eyre Basin are highly significant to all our ‘mobs’ across the region and downstream. The Dierri, Wonkamurra, Wangkumarra and the Boothamurra mobs down towards Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre are worried about what Queensland can do to the rivers that flow down to the lake or ‘Mowana’, as Mithaka call it. The Dierri call it Kati Thanda, a name officially recognised in 2013. Mowana is the budgerigar. Our people have known forever that when Mowana were many, the water reached Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, and the season would be good and food plentiful. Conclusion In the recent period of Liberal National Party Government in Queensland, policies and management were focused on mining, leading towards potentially destroying this magnificent natural system. New government regimes will take power and there will always be a constant turnover of governments with new agendas, but they all need to recognise that the people of the Lake Eyre Basin want to protect our rivers for future generations. These rivers are more than just a resource for making money. They are significant to this country as its birds, animals, its people and their stories and dreams depend on the rivers. And it doesn’t matter what colour you are. Just the thought of someone wanting to destroy this unique, iconic river system, which is really significant to this region, this state, the country and the world, is crazy. I can’t understand it. We Lake Eyre Traditional Owners want developers to back away from this country and our waters, if they are contemplating anything that threatens these magnificent cultural and environmental values. We do not want irrigation or gas that will destroy our country and its waters. As long as these rivers are okay, we’re okay. Finally, let’s get more sophisticated. We can create jobs through the protection of these rivers, not through the destruction of them, and we can build a sustainable future for ourselves and our environment, one that Aboriginal people have maintained for tens of thousands of years. It’s been our obligation for millennia to look after these waters and not to
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