Up in arms over water

By Country News

Speak Up chair Shelley Scoullar says it is ‘‘extremely disappointing’’ that Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud appears set to push on with delivering 450Gl of ‘up-water’, despite community concerns.

Mrs Scoullar, who met the minister while he was in Shepparton on March 8, said there had been alarm bells across a number of regions in relation to the 450Gl ‘up-water’ issue.

‘‘Even if people in our regions do not participate in the programs, there will be a knock-on effect that will limit our resource and push water prices up even higher,’’ she said.

‘‘Regardless, it seems the minister is determined to push ahead with the 450Gl, despite the legislative promise that it would not proceed if there were adverse socio-economic impacts.

‘‘It is extremely disappointing that this promise looks like being broken ... but we will not stop fighting.

‘‘The minister is determined to deliver the plan in full and on time, and this includes the 450Gl of ‘up-water’.

‘‘He told us he wants to see good science and structure around the 450Gl to give communities confidence the safeguards are in place.’’

The recent Ernst & Young report into the feasibility of delivering the 450Gl of ‘up-water’ had left many individuals concerned, Mrs Scoullar said.

She said Mr Littleproud also spoke about legal issues linking Sustainable Diversion Limit projects and the 450Gl ‘up-water’, and these were being further investigated because forum attendees had significant concerns about some of his comments.

Mr Littleproud has committed to providing more information on the legal advice, with water buybacks versus on-farm efficiencies also discussed at the meeting.

‘‘There was an excellent analogy used: it’s like making a decision about whether you would like to be shot, or starve to death,’’ Mrs Scoullar said.

‘‘Both result in water leaving the region and in the end have the same effect.’’