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Dead in the Water

A very angry book about our greatest environmental catastrophe. . . the death of the Murray-Darling Basin

The subtitle of Dead in the Water states this is a ‘very angry book’, which is totally correct as, by the end of the first three chapters the very real sense of anger, frustration and an almost total sense of despair is present which becomes a powerful combination, as page after page is devoured relating to the tragedy of the Murray Darling Basin and the death of the once mighty Murray River.

Dead in the Water is also book which could very easily see a lawsuit or two take place, as Richard Beasley clearly sets out in his pages, everything in the book has been placed under the eagle eyes of a barrage of legal experts, and rightly so, because if even half of what is on the page is true, that would be horrific enough, but everything that is in the book is so tragically true.

This does not bode well for a once mighty river system, a river system poetry has been written about, movies made on and about, writ large in the history of First Nation people and recent ‘Australians’ as a powerful, life giving force.

But what happens when this life giving force becomes far, far less than it ever was, due to the callous disregard by the very people who owe their income, sense of identity and lifestyle to this very river; the graziers, food producers, cotton growers and politician to name a few; it dies!

Clouding the facts and the issue, in a very big cloud are the Politicians, on all side of the political spectrum, who do truly appear to believe that the people of Australia are really stupid, which they are not; they are just battered, bruised and exhausted by the constant obfuscation (the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible) of facts when it comes to the Murray Darling Basin, along with the issues of Environmental and Climate change.

Presented year after year for more years than most would like to admit, so called facts about the death or rather the non-death of the mighty Murray, the destruction of wetlands, the salting up of the once gloriously rich Coorong eco system, vital to the health of the Murray are trotted out:  scientific reports deliberately misconstrued and antics, such as the blatant burning of The Murray Darling  Basin Plan , The Guide to the Proposed Basin Plan (The Guide),  has seen a plan full of workable solutions with real scientific fact and figures denigrated.

As soon as The Guide was released the lobbyists commenced action. Read chapter three. If it is the only chapter you read, it is powerful, amongst other powerful chapters and probably just about says it all….. This plan is now almost as dead as the dinosaur which is a tragedy.

Richard Beasley makes a very good case, speaking out loud and clear about the absolute disrespect a once mighty river system is receiving, the environmental effects that follow and of course Climate Change. A very recent cataclysmic event, in 2019, the death of thousands of fish, is one most Australians were aware of, which was directly attributed to lack of oxygen in the river due to several causes.

Essentially, Dead in the Water is a book that MUST be read, discussed and read again. It is a book that will leave a real anger, a genuine sense of frustration, as well as a far clearer understanding of the utter disregard for the Murray River.

Provocative, outrageous and almost satirical, if it wasn’t so terribly true, this is a wake-up call for Australian’s everywhere to take a stand, take note and read clearly between the lines, to discover what is not being said about the lack of health relating to the Murray Darling Basin and the waters that need to flow to bring it back to robust good health.

Richard Beasley is a Senior Counsel at the New South Wales Bar. He was the Senior Counsel Assisting at the Murray-Darling Royal Commission, established by the South Australian Weatherill Government in 2018 and conducted by Commissioner Bret Walker SC.

Author Richard Beasley
Publisher Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760878450
Distributor Allen & Unwin
Released February 2021