21 Water governance in Queensland 225 natural river systems. When such controls are either not in place or are relaxed, significant ecological damage can occur, as exemplified by developments in the Lower Balonne river system which had rapid growth in water access, without appropriate regulation of floodplain works, detrimentally affecting floodplains downstream. In the fragile environments of Lake Eyre Basin rivers, interference in flood flows would cause similar severe detrimental impacts. In the minds of local communities and Traditional Owners, uppermost concerns are impacts not only of large-scale irrigation but also mining on the floodplains. Almost every sector supports the continued strong protection of environmental assets for the rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin, saying that natural flows must not be reduced or interfered with, and must be protected from development or mining infrastructure. The Liberal National Party’s (2012–15) Minister of Natural Resources and Mines’ own advisory panel devoted nearly a third of their recommendations to address potential threats from mining. This continues to be a strong message to governments of whichever political persuasion. While local communities in the three Western River catchments in Queensland, particularly Traditional Owners, found that the engagement processes of Wild River declarations enabled them, over a period of nearly a year, to give voice to their concerns, the Aboriginal communities in particular have been disenfranchised by the decision to repeal the Wild Rivers declarations in the Lake Eyre Basin. There was a semblance of consulting with communities over this issue, but the terms of reference of consultation excluded the very option that Aboriginal communities preferred. Governance processes relating to the protection of natural river landscapes in Queensland would do well to build collaborative structures that engage multiple parties in decision- making not only powerful interests but also the local community and marginalised groups. References AgForce (2013) WRAP Report a Good Start to Rivers Management. AgForce, http://www.agforceqld. org.au/index.php?tgtPage=news&id=view,333%20accessed%209%20May%20201. State entities Bring access to large ecological information and data analysis tools Provide support for long-term planning and management within broad geographical and political context Potentially provide links to funds and other resources Local users and groups dependent on the resource Identify and articulate needs and priorities of the affected communities Offer local expertise Verify information and correct misinformation (particularly related to local ecological data) Shared responsibilty, decision-making and accountability Formally recognised relationship of co- management or joint management Effective management of natural resource Fig. 21.3. The collaborative structure proposed for Queensland’s policy and management of the rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin (adapted from Hoverman et al. 2012).
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