Member for Barker Tony Pasin MP says plans for on-ground works at Lake Hawdon North is a gross misuse of public funding intended to improve the health of the Coorong.

In 2018, $70 million was announced for the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin project to improve the unique and complex ecological system of the Coorong.

The main focus of the project was addressing issues caused by the accumulation of salt and nutrients in the Southern Coorong.

“The Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin project funding was intended to address hypersaline water in the southern Coorong. Six years later one of the very few projects being funded under the program that is anywhere near being close to construction is at Lake Hawdon North – nowhere near the Coorong,” Mr Pasin said.

In early 2020, a feasibility study funded under the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Program concluded that constructing a regulator on Drain L could maintain the ecological health of the Robe Lakes and extend the period of Lake Hawdon inundation, providing shorebird habitat for the entire period that migrating shorebirds are present in the South-East.

“Lake Hawdon North is over 70 kms from the Southern Coorong. The fact that the South Australian State Government has identified the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin project as an opportunity for the Federal Government to fund works at Lake Hawdon North, such a significant distance from the Coorong, is a joke,” Mr Pasin said.

“It is in the National interest for every dollar of funding allocated under the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin project to be used for its intended purpose – to improve the health of the Coorong,”

“Every dollar diverted away from this purpose is a dollar not improving outcomes for the Coorong and by extension the entire Murray Darling Basin and its users,” Mr Pasin said.

“As the Lake Hawdon North project requires final approvals from the Commonwealth Government under the funding agreement, I have written to the Federal Minister Tanya Plibersek bringing the matter to her urgent attention,”

“Minster Plibersek must step in to ensure the Coorong is not cheated out of this funding,” Mr Pasin said.

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