Beresford, Quentin

Queensland Literary Awards 2022 – Shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of State Significance
The Murray–Darling Basin, Australia’s food bowl, is in crisis. For more than a century, the Basin has faced a series of environmental catastrophes: soil erosion, sand drifts and dust storms, salinity, algal blooms, the threat to native flora and fauna and the drying out of internationally recognised wetlands, along with steadily worsening droughts.  Award-winning author Quentin Beresford delves into the history of the river system since European settlement, revealing Australia’s destructive relationship with the environment, and the willingness of politicians to ignore expert advice. The dispossession and marginalisation of local Indigenous people denied European settlers the cultural knowledge to manage the Basin sustainably.  Instead, we’ve had waves of nation-building irrigation schemes and agricultural enterprises, all promoted by politicians more concerned with short-term profits than long-term sustainability. We are now at a point of reckoning.  Only an end to the centuries-old development-at-all-costs approach, along with a recognition of Indigenous water rights, an acceptance of science and the adoption of sustainable farming practices, can save the once mighty Murray–Darling.

‘One of the most important books to emerge in recent decades concerning both Australia’s dangerous environmental mismanagement and the indivisible plunder of Indigenous society.’ — Charles Massy

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NewSouth Publishing, September 2021,  432 pages, paperback