Opinion

Region’s irrigators must stand up for themselves

By Country News

By Dudley Bryant (on behalf of Northern Victorian Irrigation Communities)

We would like to respond to ‘Farmers must work together on water’, signed off by the VFF Water Council’s Andrew Leahy and Paul Mundy, regarding water sharing (Country News, March 24).

1. Southern Riverina Irrigators would love for the VFF to support Mr Keelty in investigating floodplain harvesting in the north of the basin.

2. Seeing as the VFF has listed cleaning up floodplain harvesting as part of its 10-point plan, surely it follows that the VFF should be modifying the National Farmers’ Federation’s lack of meaningful support for our region.

3. SRI and Northern Victorian Irrigation Communities encourage Mr Keelty to investigate why NSW and Victoria are required to make up the Darling shortfall to South Australia.

4. SRI and NVIC want Mr Keelty to investigate the huge losses incurred in getting water to irrigators downstream of Mildura and, more particularly, to South Australia’s life-stylers and estuary manipulators.

On the point of honesty — the NVIC had nothing to do with organising the meeting to review northern Victoria irrigator representation.

However, we were delighted to see that the 50 or so attending by far the majority supported joining NVIC.

The VFF has a lengthy agenda that attends to the many issues of Victoria’s rural industries.

The Shepparton Irrigation Region cannot expect to be always pre-eminent on this agenda.

Beyond advocacy at the state level, the VFF attempts to voice the concerns of northern Victorian irrigators at the national level through the NFF.

At this level, it is very difficult when NFF leadership seeks a reduction of river flow constraints and encourages Upper Darling development that has reduced this river’s contribution to Murray flow below Wentworth.

The Darling’s contribution is now about six per cent compared to 36 per cent a decade ago.

Meanwhile, northern Victorian and southern Riverina irrigators’ reduced allocations make up the difference to allow South Australia to experience reliable water abundance unimaginable in a rational world.

NVIC must single-mindedly focus on and address the problem of water supply and allocation on a united front for our region.