A politician has made headlines after he was forced to run off camera to vomit midway through a broadcast due to the strong stench from mass fish deaths in the Darling River.
NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham was filming a segment in which he slammed the National Party following the horrific deaths of up to one million fish in the river system, but was overcome by the terrible smell and had to run off screen to be sick.
Accompanied by two farmers, the Greens MP is seen holding up a huge dead Murray cod fish as he wades in the water before detailing the extent of the tragedy, which has seen countless rare fish rotting in the shallow water due to what are believed to be excess algal blooms.
While he acknowledged that climate change and the recent drought will have contributed to the deaths, Buckingham also blamed the Nationals for mismanagement and added: “You should hang your heads in shame.”
I couldn't finish this video because I was involuntarily retching from the smell. It was one of the most disgusting experiences of my life. I felt so sick that I panicked and jumped in the river to escape it – as bad as it is! #nswpol pic.twitter.com/TQ7YFQZMsz
— Jeremy Buckingham 🌏 (@greensjeremy) January 9, 2019
“This is what you get when you leave the National Party in charge of water in Australia – dead fish; a massive stink,” he added.
However, before he could finish his speech he had to put the fish down and apologise as he scrambled off to be sick – leaving his companions to finish the broadcast for him.
Sharing the video on his own social media pages, Buckingham admitted he was “involuntarily retching from the smell”.
“It was one of the most disgusting experiences of my life. I felt so sick that I panicked and jumped in the river to escape it – as bad as it is!” he explained. “The overwhelming stench from millions of dead fish floating in the Darling River at Menindee is grotesque. I visited yesterday to see what decades of mismanagement and corruption have resulted in – an ecological catastrophe.”
He went on to explain: “Magnificent Murray Cod and other fish have been killed by a blue-green algae event. A lack of water in the Darlin River and the Menindee Lakes means that authorities were unable to flush the system before millions of fish suffocated through a lack of oxygen in water.
“Where is all the water? Well too much cotton irrigation upstream in NSW and Queensland is taking too much water out of the river. Small and medium flows are sucked dry and only big floods ever get downstream. Governments have also emptied the Menindee Lakes system rapidly, rather than leave water in reserve for dry times.
“This mass fish kill should be a wake up call for Australia. For too long, politicians have shifted blame from one another and pretended they can fix the policy without the fundamental issue of returning more water to our natural waterways and wetlands. We’ve spent decades and $13 billion only to end up with ecological tragedy in our rivers.”
It sparked a huge reaction from viewers online, with one commenting: “I’ve been sharing since we heard the first post. Jeez Jeremy, what can we do? This is horrendous,” while another added: “You have no idea how bad it is mate. The entire country outside of the sydney/melbourne [sic] CBD’s is totally mismanaged.”
And one wrote: “Recirculating the water is better than regurgitating your breakfast.”
It comes after a Facebook video posted by local farmers Dick Arnold and Rob McBride went viral online, as they showed shocking footage of the bloated carcasses of the huge fish.
NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has since called for an urgent report from the Department of Primary Industries and WaterNSW.
“In the past six months there’s been 30 gigalitres in the system – on an average year there is 4,000 gigalitres,” he told AAP on Wednesday. “You cannot dismiss the fact there is a drought and a lack of water.”