Change in water leadership

By Country News

A sudden change in Southern Riverina Irrigators leadership has seen Barooga farmer Chris Brooks appointed the new chair of the group after Gabrielle Coupland did not stand for re-election.

Mr Brooks, who was elected at the group’s annual general meeting last Tuesday night, has declared building a united voice in the region as the key priority for the group under his stewardship.

A fourth generation irrigation farmer who returned to the region in 2012, Mr Brooks admitted to being staggered by the way water and water politics constantly restricted his ability to make a profit.

‘‘I am appalled at the constant and growing list of disasters in water policy which have been so counter-productive to the entire region,’’ he said.

‘‘The incumbent governments have done us no favours and we must make them aware of this fact.

‘‘I don’t mind which government I shake up; I am here to try and get some water back, or at least stop giving it away.’’

Saying he was looking forward to the challenge, Mr Brooks said he was confident SRI could make a difference, and thanked landholders for their support.

‘‘But to achieve this we must immediately ensure there is full co-operation and unity between the landholder associations so we can establish a clear strategy going forward that includes input from all members in the Murray Irrigation district,’’ he said.

‘‘At the same time we must all be open and transparent about policies and issues.

‘‘First on my agenda will be prioritising the must-do matters and applying sufficient resources and local skills to ensure we achieve satisfactory outcomes.’’

He called for organisations including SRI, Murray Irrigation and Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia to work in unison to ensure they were ‘‘on the same page’’.

‘‘Positive steps to achieve this have been taken in recent times and I am determined that they will continue and be successful, with SRI an integral part of the process,’’ Mr Brooks said.