Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995

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Parliamentary Record 10


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 Whilst, at this stage, multiple use of the Mary River system is in its early development, now is the time to gain acceptance from landholders and representatives of sectional interests and community groups of some constraints on the achievement of their narrower goals. Effective multiple use will vary across the river system. The combination of 2 or more sustainable enterprises in one region does not of itself constitute effective multiple use because their combined sustainability does not necessarily maintain biological diversity or ecological function. It is the committees opinion that, if ecological sustainability is to be ensured in the process of achieving multiple use of the region, it may be necessary to limit development before maximum economic productivity is achieved. The committee has arrived at a number of recommendations relating to the Mary River wetlands regarding 9 main issues of concern to stakeholders in the catchment. These issues are saltwater intrusion, weeds, improved pastures, land competition, visitor impact, feral animals, bushfire controls, wildlife habitat protection, and water quality. The committee proposes that its recommendations, addressing these main issues, form part of an integrated catchment management plan for the region. These recommendations should be developed and implemented by a task force, chaired independently and comprising a majority of non-government members. It is our belief that this task force should have only one representative from key industry groups and government departments concerned in order to make the task force both effective and focused. The committee further contends that the work of this task force should be promulgated in such a way that all stakeholders will be bound by any agreed management plan and its implementation. Of the most immediate concern to the committee, leaving aside details and the development of a catchment management plan for the region, is arresting saltwater intrusion and reclaiming damaged land. The committee considers that this problem must be addressed most seriously and urgent action taken in order to safeguard and protect future land use in the Mary River system. Your committee is aware of the earthen barrage system of banks, built both by government agencies and landholders in the region in an attempt to halt this saltwater intrusion. However, due to the ever-increasing encroachment of the salt water into the area, and the ever-increasing tidal effects in the 2 major creeks in the river system, namely the Sampan and the Tommy cut, more immediate and drastic action is required than the constructing of earthen levee banks presently carried out. Your committee is firmly of the opinion that engineering investigations, environmental assessment and budgetary planning should be completed in conjunction with pilot works trials to construct tidal chokes within the next 2 years. This will enable the permanent damping of tidal flows through Tommycut and Sampan Creeks, thereby reducing the spread and advance of saltwater intrusion into as yet unaffected wetlands. The works can be undertaken at the mouth of these creeks and constructed in such a manner as to allow the barramundi population unimpeded access to the Mary River system. I hasten to add that, while the committees other recommendations may stand the test of time, if they are to be fully developed, urgent action is needed to combat saltwater intrusion before it progresses past the possibility of an economic and engineering solution to arrest the intrusion and reclaim the wetlands already lost. I cannot emphasise enough the urgency of undertaking these works with fimding such that they can be put in place within the next