The Boss's Dog

Good ol’ ABC bias - fibbing about the River

By The General

"Here we go again, General," The Boss said grumpily. He'd been listening to a Background Briefing about the Murray Darling Plan on ABC radio, where reporter Sarah Dingle repeatedly blamed the state of South Australia's Coorong lagoons on the lack of water from the Murray River.

"She even found a fisher on the southern lagoon who claimed the diminishing catch of flounder was because there wasn't enough water from the Murray," he said, shaking his head.

The Boss reckons this is complete  and utter nonsense. Even the South Australian Environment Department admits that the southern lagoon of the Coorong is compromised by the drainage works carried out by South Australia over the past century.

Last year The Boss took a tour around the Coorong to see for himself and the locals showed him where the influence of the Murray water runs out, even in flood - about half-way up the northern Coorong lagoon, about where the barrages end. This is well-established. But on they went:

The Boss says there is no doubt the Coorong is struggling and it's a tragedy. But what they are talking about here has nothing to do with the management of the river system at all. The entire cause of the southern lagoon's problems is the network of massive drains that intersect the natural drainage lines that used to bring water to the Coorong. It doesn't help to lie about it. The problems of the Coorong are largely South Australia's dirty little secret.

The Boss says painting the Coorong's problems as a result of inadequate river flows is dishonest reporting. It implies that over-extraction upstream by irrigators is the cause when it simply is not.

It's a case of "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!" he says.

The Boss says there's been quite a bit of positive news about the Murray Darling in recent weeks, including a report from the Authority itself reporting on encouraging signs of recovery across a number of icon environmental sites in the Basin. 

And last week some Melbourne University academics also reported on their research showing improvement across the river system; it will take decades to recover, they say - but that is hardly surprising when the degradation occurred over a century.

The Boss says this positive news doesn't suit the narrative of The Wentworth Group of Scientists, or the ABC for that matter. 

"The truth is always a little more complicated, General," he says to me. 

He adds, quite unnecessarily: "Whereas you are quite simple."  Woof.