Last week, the South Australian Marshall government watched on unmoved as the last of an entire family of wild dolphins living in the Port River dolphin sanctuary died a slow, painful death. The last months of Oriana's life were filled with grief, as her new calf, CK, died and then her mother, Bianca, soon followed. On Monday last week, Oriana was discovered with vicious wounds that cut right through her blubber and into her flesh. For three days she struggled, crying, while her friends Star and Ripple—the latter of whom lost her own baby, Holly, in January—stayed by her side to care for her. On Thursday, Oriana was found dead in the waters off Garden Island.
This dolphin sanctuary has become a slaughterhouse, and the Premier and the South Australian government are now responsible. The experts have been clear: we must limit speeds in the sanctuary. The Protect Our Dolphins campaign is not asking for much—only what we would expect to already be the case. Even Flinders Ports have said a sanctuary-wide speed limit would not affect their commerce. The only thing it would do is enforce sensible restrictions to protect a vital community that is unique in the world. More than 17,000 people have signed a petition to limit speeds in the dolphin sanctuary, including an additional 5,000 since I last spoke in this place on this issue only a month ago. The state Liberal government, however, has repeatedly ignored calls for action and even tried to hide behind a ludicrous excuse of ministerial responsibility: that the environment minister has no jurisdiction over boat speed limits but the transport minister has no jurisdiction over protected species.
The South Australian government has repeatedly shirked responsibility for this crisis. I've received no response to my calls for action from the Premier. Ashleigh Pisani of the Portside Messenger and Dr Mike Bossley have been tireless in their advocacy, which has also fallen on deaf ears. Seven dolphins in the last nine months have been killed in the Port River - three adult dolphins: Ruby, Bianca and Oriana, and four new calves: Holly, RIpple's daughter, CK, Oriana's daughter, and the two unnamed but no less mourned calves of the Port River pod. The deaths of these unique and precious creatures should not be in vain. Premier Steven Marshall must act and he must act now to introduce speed limits across the Port River dolphin sanctuary.