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Media Release
Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

1 March 2001

Mighty Murray Marathon swimmer honoured

Federal Member for Murray, Sharman Stone welcomed Tammy van Wisse to Parliament House today to congratulate her on her marathon swim. She recently completed a record breaking 2438km swim the length of the River Murray.

"Representatives of all electorates along the Murray spoke with Tammy about her 106 day swim that started in Corryong in November last year. Tammy made particular mention of the time she spent swimming through the Barmah-Millewa Forest and the particular challenges that were involved with this leg of the swim", Sharman Stone said.

"The 'black water' was just flushing through the system, which sent the other water life scrambling to the shore".

Sharman Stone said that Tammy's swim highlighted the importance of the Murray River as the environmental, agricultural, economic and social lifeblood of Northern Victoria, and indeed the whole country.

"Tammy pointed out that the waters were clear and clean when she started her swim in the Victorian high country. She could see right to the bottom. However, the state of the Murray became progressively worse the further down the river she swam. By the time Tammy reached the South Australian section of the river she could literally taste the salt".

The swim was designed to draw community and government attention to the fragile nature of the Murray and set a record for the longest continuous swim.

"The Federal Government is investing substantially to restore and repair the Murray through the Natural Heritage Trust and the Prime Minister's Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality. It is not too late for us to reverse the situation", Shaman Stone said.

"We are already seeing the re-emergence of important flora and fauna along the Barmah-Millewa stretch of the River Murray where ibis, pacific heron, nankeen night heron and marshworts have all re-appeared in droves this year. A survey of frogs indicated that nine species of newly hatched tadpoles were breeding in the forest. This is a direct result of artificial forest watering".

"This helps to show that we can support an irrigation system that powers the 'foodbowl' of the nation, while we still pay attention to the environmental health of the river system and the life that it supports".

Speaking in Parliament this week, Sharman Stone said that there was a need for greater cross-border co-operation aimed at reversing the decline in the Murray River's condition.

"We still have only half of the Barmah Forest Wetlands RAMSAR listed, as a place of international significance. The NSW side will not be listed until the State Government sorts out which Department will manage it!"

"Tammy Van Wisse's record breaking swim once again highlights the importance of working together to improve the state of this great Australian artery".

* Electronic photos of Tammy van Wisse at Parliament House are available.

For further information please contact:
Simon Frost 0419 495 468 or 02 6277 2016
March 1st, 2001

Commonwealth of Australia