Ratepayers should not bear burden of river: Ballina MP
THE State Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith, has taken action to improve the health of the Richmond River by writing to the NSW Premier calling for the State Government to oversee a co-ordinated effort.
This comes at a time when Ballina Shire Council is consulting the community about raising rates again, with some of those funds earmarked for the council's Healthy Waterways program that has improving the health of the river as one of its goals.
It also follows a visit by the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, earlier this year in which she admitted she wasn't aware of the problems to do with the health of the river.
Ms Berejiklian chipped the State Member for not bringing the issue up with her.
Ms Smith has now written to her, saying improving the health of the river would be good for fishing and tourism.
"I have written to the Premier in support of Ballina Shire Council's request that she organise a State Government response to oversee the many different improvements needed to rehabilitate the 237km long Richmond and its tributaries," Ms Smith said.
"The Richmond River is of national significance, it should not be left solely to local councils such as Ballina Shire Council or its ratepayers to bear the burden of rehabilitating a river that has been neglected by State Government for decades.
"Wonderful community groups such as OzFish and LandCare have been using donations and volunteer help to try to improve riverbanks by replanting trees, but they need State Government help and funding.
"When I was a child, oyster farming was a viable industry in Ballina and my grandfather was an avid fisherman here.
"Mud and silt cover the riverbed and tourists complain they are disappointed with the fishing.
"Invasive weeds are destroying native vegetation, adding to riverbank erosion and muddying the waters with soil.
"Introduced carp species are causing further damage. The oysters are gone, with very few able to survive. This in turn limits the river's natural filtration system.
"We need funding and co-ordination at a State Government level to bring the Richmond back to a healthy level and to restore the wildlife in and around the river.
"Improving the health of the river will be good for fishing, and great for tourism. I call on the Premier to act now," said Ms Smith.