Basin backlash from Moama

By Geoff Adams

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan debate had been derailed by ideologies and misinformation, the chair of the committee organising last week’s Moama water forum has claimed.

Speak Up Campaign chair Shelley Scoullar also said the communities had not been helped by politicians who were toeing the party line, and the promise that the basin plan would deliver a triple bottom line balance between social, economic and environmental outcomes had been totally ignored.

Those strong words were uttered after the forum heard of the significant economic impact being suffered by northern Victoria and southern Riverina from water transfers out of agriculture.

Speakers also warned that further damage would be caused if the water take was increased from the agreed 2750Gl to 3200Gl.

‘‘Our communities have had enough of being traded off and the subject of political and industry deals,’’ Mrs Scoullar said.

‘‘It is time we were protected and given opportunities to reach our productive and ecological potentials.

‘‘We support the NSW and Victorian water ministers in their strong stance to withdraw from the basin plan if commonsense does not prevail.

‘‘Despite the fact we have been sacrificed throughout the basin plan process, we are not walking away.

‘‘Environmental outcomes are equally important as the social and economic, which is why we believe that localised projects are the best option to ensuring a basin plan that works for the lower Darling, and other southern basin communities, while at the same time providing opportunities for South Australia.’’

Mixed irrigator Mark Martin from Wakool said the community as a whole needed a voice.

‘‘The ramifications from this plan are being felt across regional communities,’’ Mr Martin said.

‘‘With no water land is rendered unproductive which is fracturing communities.

‘‘People are leaving, schools and sporting organisations are suffering and towns are becoming social welfare towns.

‘‘It’s terrible.’’

Barham farmer Neil Eagle said it was time the Murray-Darling Basin Authority acknowledged the plan was a train wreck.

‘‘We need both governments to get involved and turn this around,’’ Mr Eagle said.

‘‘The 2007 Water Act needs to be redrafted. There are too many people making decisions that have no fat in the game.

‘‘It’s time they started to listen to the people this affects.’’

Cohuna dairy farmer John Keeley said without water his farm had no future.

‘‘I have a vested interest in this and no more water should be taken for the environment. I think it’s time we got a fair deal.’’