Plea for water help

By Country News on June 20, 2017
  • Plea for water help

    A Deniliquin farmer has made an emotional plea for support from politicians to end the debate over the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and to support regional communities.

A Deniliquin farmer has made an emotional plea for support from politicians to end the debate over the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and to support regional communities.

Louise Burge was one of a group of community leaders who went to Canberra to lobby for support and launch a new report which sets out the impact of the plan on irrigated farming.

Her family farm of four generations has been impacted twice by poor government decisions.

In 2010, after a 10-year drought, environmental flows were delivered at the wrong time, splitting their property in two.

‘‘We lost over $300000, $400000 in our crops,’’ she said in Canberra last Wednesday.

Last year, the property’s house was surrounded by floodwater.

‘‘What I’m pleading with politicians is to put aside their political differences, recognise there are many, many people impacted by these decisions,’’ Ms Burge said.

‘‘It highlights the standard of politics in Australia, where they can keep playing political games.’’

She said the story of the basin plan wasn’t just one of irrigators; it also affected those who live alongside rivers, the tourism industry and other associated businesses.

Ms Burge recalled the time she had former environment minister Tony Burke at her kitchen table and explained their predicament, only to have him buy more water.

‘‘He’s now saying we need another 450Gl,’’ she said.

‘‘We’ve spoken to the Coalition and they seem to have the incapacity to see the need to change. Our communities are desperate.’’

Ms Burge was speaking at the launch of stage one of a report into the impact of the basin plan on the NSW Murray Valley.

It found rice production has reduced by nearly 30 per cent, with dairy falling by about 21 per cent.

‘‘Those regions that are predominantly horticulture such as SA, Sunraysia and Griffith have emerged largely untouched by the plan to date,’’ the report found.

Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm is pursuing changes, including for the planned extra 450Gl of environmental flows slated by 2024 to not go ahead.

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts said the major parties must start listening to people who live in the areas affected.

‘‘The social factors have not been considered,’’ he said.

The report — paid for by Riverina businesses, irrigators, community groups and water bodies — is part one of what may be a four-part study.

Shelley Scoullar from the Speak up Campaign said they would be looking for funding to gather further information.

By Country News on June 20, 2017
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