A state-of-the-art $8 million River Murray and Wetlands Research Institute has been proposed for Goolwa, with stakeholders recently meeting to discuss the project.
Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie - who has been advocating for the establishment of a Research Institute for some time - told stakeholders gathered at a round-table discussion held on October 16, that negotiations with the Federal Government were "99 per cent" complete.
"The most contentious issue in Parliament is water... and my job is to really put forward the position of our community," Ms Sharkie said.
"We are, as I believe, the most vulnerable part of the river system.
"We are almost over the line for an $8 million investment in a Research Institute here in Goolwa."
The proposed River Murray and Wetlands Research Institute which would be based in Goolwa, is expected to involve collaborations between a number of organisations including the Federal Government, the Alexandrina Council, South Australia's three universities, as well as the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation, the Murray Darling Basin Authority and Regional Development Australia.
A number of representatives gathered in Goolwa on Friday to discuss the project, as part of round-table discussions hosted by the Alexandrina Council.
Alexandrina Mayor Keith Parkes thanked Ms Sharkie for her advocacy regarding the River Murray and said it was time to "take the next step and set up a Research Institute in Goolwa".
"Improving the state of the Lower Lakes and Coorong is not an easy task," Mr Parkes said.
"We need to ensure we hand down a healthy and productive environment for future generations to enjoy."
Mr Parkes also acknowledged the Ngarrindjeri people and said their input would be integral to the establishment of a locally-based Institute.
"The Coorong and the meeting of waters to the Murray Mouth is a site of great importance to the Ngarrindjeri people and their culture," he said.
Discussions at the round-table event centred on the proposed establishment of a Research Institute, and what form it would take.
Stakeholders representing a variety of relevant organisations discussed how the project could best be delivered in a collaborative fashion, with suggestions also being put forward, including that a dedicated marine department be established within the Institute.
Alexandrina's Chief Executive Officer Glenn Rappensberg said the establishment of such an Institute offered an exciting opportunity.
"Goolwa is a great location for this type of research... and we have the ability to combine Indigenous and scientific knowledge," Mr Rappensberg said.
"Our council, for a long time, has been advocating in this space... and we have been working with Rebekha Sharkie on this for a number of years.
"We hope the Government will take the next step and establish a River Murray and Wetlands Research Institute here in Goolwa.
"As part of this, we have the opportunity to collaborate with the Ngarrindjeri people in a move that can set us apart from other Research Institutes."
Deputy Vice Chair, Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations, Grant Rigney, said the proposed Research Institute presented a great opportunity.
"There is a lot we can do to collaborate as part of this project," he said.
Stakeholders and representatives present at the round-table discussion held on Friday included:
- Rebekha Sharkie, Federal Member for Mayo
- Kane Aldridge, Fresh Water Ecologist
- Shen Mann, Assistant Director Secretariat and Government Relations, MDBA
- Nick Whiterod, Nature Glenelg Trust
- Kerri Muller, CLLMM Scientific Advisory Group
- Dianne Davidson AM, Chair, Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board (via V/C)
- Grant Rigney, Deputy Vice Chair, MLDRIN
- Representatives from the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation
- Stephen Shotton, Regional Development Manager, Regional Development Australia AHFKI
- Melissa Rebbeck, Chairperson, Murray Darling Basin Association Region 6
- Glenn Rappensberg, CEO, Alexandrina Council (Chairperson)
- Keith Parkes, Mayor, Alexandrina Council
- Monika Rhodes, Strategic Environmental Officer, Alexandrina Council
The office of Federal Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud has been contacted for comment.