Murray-Darling Residents Advocate for Government Change


Rob McBride

Darling River at Tolarno Station

Angry Murray-Darling Basin residents plan to overthrow both the incumbent New South Wales and Federal governments within the next three months, over their inaction on recent mass fish deaths.

In early January, an estimated one million fish died in this region’s rivers as drought-reduced river flows were exacerbated by water taken by upstream irrigators, political mismanagement of water allocation to farmers and poor enforcement of water regulations – as detailed in the ABC Four Corners investigation.

Many people who live and work in the area have become vocal river advocates, believing that the best way to deal with this water mismanagement is providing information to voters in cities.

Parts of New South Wales have been in drought for over eight years and given the impact, media attention has been sparse.

However, the fish kill has triggered huge interest from the public and plenty of interaction on social media, which some locals say have helped them educate others and encourage political pushback.

“The current government has been instrumental in destroying the Darling; they do not care about people in the bush and that’s been made clear,” said Kate McBride, a fifth-generation farmer at Tolarno Station.

Kate and her father Rob McBride are at the forefront of a group of residents fighting political inaction over environmental issues along the Darling River and Menindee Lakes.

In early January, The Guardian released Rob’s video of the fish kill which went viral, with over eight million YouTube views.

That helped the issue to gain publicity around Australia and internationally.

“People around the planet started to ask questions about why two people are standing in a river with majestic fish in the vicinity of 80 to 100 years old,” said Rob McBride.

“Like everything in the world if you’ve got a knowledge and understanding, then conceivably through [sharing] knowledge you can overthrow the bad guys doing bad guy stuff.”

The Minister of Agriculture and Water Resource, David Littleproud, stated that there would be an independent investigation into the fish death in late January.

Results of this investigation will be released at the end of March.

– Brooke LaMantia