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More 'riparian' rights
Title : More 'riparian' rights More 'riparian' rights
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Source : Critic, 5 February 1898, p. 85
Date of creation : 1898
Format : Cartoon
Contributor : State Library catalogue
Catalogue record
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Description :
In the early years of European settlement in Australia, the three colonies through which the River Murray flows used its waters for their own needs, with little accord between them. In the 1880s mass diversions of water for irrigation began and tension between navigation and irrigation interests increased. Several intercolonial conferences and Royal Commissions were unsuccessful in achieving any agreement on who controlled the river.

During the Federal Conventions of 1897-98 colonies intensely debated control of the Murray waters and the rights of each state under a new federal government. For South Australia, the concern was that users upstream were taking water out of the Murray-Darling system with scant regard for the effect downstream. South Australian delegates argued strongly the case for national control regarding navigation. In opposition, the Premier of New South Wales, George Reid, moved that any state or individual should not be stopped from utilising river waters for irrigation or conservation.

This cartoon depicts George Reid bathing in the middle of the River Murray and stating 'There is only room for one colony in this stream' while South Australian delegates - Charles Cameron Kingston, Josiah Symon and John Downer - look on longingly.

The prospect of Federation brought some promise of a more unified approach to River Murray issues, but federal constitutional responsibility was not awarded, and control of a national resource that crosses three state boundaries essentially remained with the state governments. Today, most would agree that the River Murray is under serious threat without a national approach to improve its health and regulate water usage. State and federal governments continue to be divided on what can be done about the river's problems, who has control of the waters and who has responsibility for rehabilitation of the dwindling waterway.

Related names :

Downer, John, Sir, 1844-1915

Kingston, Charles Cameron, 1850-1908

Reid, G. H. (George Houstoun), 1845-1918

Symon, Josiah, Sir, 1846-1934

Murray River (N.S.W.-S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1898
Period : 1884-1913
Region : Riverland and Murraylands
Further reading :
The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists. Blueprint for a national water plan, Sydney, N.S.W.: WWF Australia, 2003

Eastburn, David. The River Murray: history at a glance: Murray-Darling Basin heritage, Canberra, A.C.T.: Murray-Darling Basin Commission, 1990

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