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Summary of Report

This summary describes the principles and recommendations contained in the 160 page Swan Resource 2017 report (the ‘report’) prepared by My Clean River consultants. The intention is to halt the decline of the Swan Canning rivers, to reduce management costs, to involve the Aboriginal people, and promote tourism for WA. The independent investigation began by examining the management of the river system and concluded that to achieve a sustainable shift in its management, two things were required: 1. To recognise UNEP’s Agenda 21 which accords a role for the Indigenous people in ensuring its biodiversity. 2. To promote the creation of a permanent exposition in Perth to promote the river to the public including its heritage. An expo centre, provisionally called the Derbarl Yerrigan Swan Centre, could be co-funded by government and the private sector and, suitably presented, become self-funding. Substantive externalities can be anticipated for the State by stimulating tourism, particularly drawn to engage Indigenous culture and of course recovering some of the imponderably large cost of lost river amenity. It can be anticipated that the new Labor Government will be favourably disposed to promoting the report’s recommendations which has not been formally released. 2.1 ISSUE 2.1.1 RIVER INFORMATION As affirmed in the state’s Auditor General’s report of 2014, the Swan Canning river system is in decline with the upper reaches on life-support with five oxygen tanks. There is very little relevant and understandable information provided about the river. Consequently the public is not only unaware of the parlous state of the river, but of the direct and indirect costs being incurred in attempts to mask the symptoms. The report shows there are initiatives available at less cost to the taxpayers. Instead, the public is incurring the imponderably huge cost of reduced river amenity, including from river closures for health risks, and the reduced birds and aquatic life. Arguably the biggest loss however is incurred by the Indigenous people, the Noongar Aboriginals, for whom the river is part of their essence. As a first step, providing information for the public will draw the support of the public to encourage the river to be dealt with more effectively at source. Up till now, the political system has encouraged a silence from government agencies about the true state of the river and the failure to protect the “heritage icon” despite perhaps the most robust river management legislation in Australia. 2.1.2 HERITAGE INFORMATION The river is the lifeblood of the indigenous people so its decline is a direct assault on their being. Such special relationship is recognised in New Zealand, where are a river is now deemed as “if a human”.  This attitude of respect for indigenous people is also in harmony with the United Nations Environment Program Agenda 21 that Australia has signed, and the proposals outlined in the Swan Resource 2017 report prepared by the My Clean River group of independent consultants. The role of the Indigenous people is expressed in the proposed Derbarl Yerrigan Swan Centre  (2.3). For Perth the river is an integral part of what makes the city. 2.1.3 TOURIST APPEAL With the ultimate aim of creating a self-funding solution to the decline of the river, the Derbarl Yerrigan Swan Centre (the Centre) is proposed as an exposition centre that would not only provide information to help create awareness of the river, it would become a major draw card for tourism as an activity that is underperforming in WA . The Centre would also be an opportunity for tourists and the people of WA to experience indigenous heritage in an interactive way. 2.2 OPPORTUNITY The opportunity is to create an exposition centre near the Swan River that would appeal to the public and tourists that would promote the significance of the river to the people with particular emphasis on the Indigenous people. It is proposed to call this centre, the Derbarl Yerrigan Swan Centre.