Security in danger

By Country News

The Senate’s political games are endangering the future food security of this nation, according to Murray River Group chair Cheryl McKinnon.

She warned that by blocking the northern basin changes, the senate had put the entire basin plan on the brink of collapse.

‘‘We are dismayed at this decision by the Senate that puts the whole plan at risk,’’ Cr McKinnon said.

‘‘Remember, the plan is all about achieving a balance — improving the environment without destroying basin communities.

‘‘The result of the Senate blocking the recommended adjustments — this one and potentially the 605GL southern basin adjustment — would be disastrous for our communities.

‘‘It would force the Commonwealth to go back to purchasing water.

‘‘We know from independent studies and from listening to our communities that taking more water from northern Victoria will devastate our agricultural industries when the next big dry comes.

‘‘That means horticulture — it will mean pulling up permanent plantings of fruit trees and grape vines or more growers walking away from their blocks as is already happening in some locations.

‘‘That means potentially the entire dairy industry in northern Victoria gone. That’s 25 per cent of Australia’s dairy production.

‘‘This is your food bowl we are talking about — this is about securing ourselves up for the challenges of this century to feed our nation as our cities and regions keep growing.

‘‘And the human toll of that is something that we don’t hear much about from Senators. But we in local government do.

‘‘We hear from our communities of the mental strain, the stress and the uncertainty.

‘‘Our communities have lived with uncertainty for years now around water and if the basin plan collapses, that is the worst outcome — for the environment, for the economy and food security and for basin communities.’’