Call for action on plan

By Country News

No more water can be retrieved from NSW or Victoria, with the country already ‘‘suffering’’ at the hands of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, according to the Speak Up Campaign.

The group is continuing to warn of the effects of more water recovery ahead of Friday’s Ministerial Council meeting in Melbourne, where state and territory water ministers will meet to discuss a neutrality test for the 450Gl of ‘up-water’.

Speak Up spokesperson Darcy Hare said it was clear the basin plan had ‘‘gone pear-shaped’’.

‘‘Our nation is suffering because we have made mistakes with the basin plan which those in charge of its implementation refuse to acknowledge,’’ Mr Hare said.

‘‘Of course, we know it’s impossible to recover more water with no adverse impacts, and we also know there are many people — especially those from the Commonwealth Department of Water and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority — who will continue denying this unequivocal fact.

‘‘They are also becoming more aware that the river flow volumes being proposed simply will not fit down the system without the risk of massive flooding to public and private land. This will come at an enormous cost to taxpayers.’’

Mayors from four local government areas in southern NSW have echoed concerns and joined forces to call for absolute transparency about the ‘‘make or break’’ decision.

Edward River Council Mayor Norm Brennan, Murray River Council Mayor Chris Bilkey, Berrigan Shire Council Mayor Matt Hannan and Murrumbidgee Shire Council Mayor Ruth McRae released a joint statement expressing serious concerns about further job losses and economic pain of further water recovery.

‘‘It’s make or break for many of us,’’ the mayors said.

They are concerned that water ministers will not be well-armed with the views of basin communities, because in the past information from consultation sessions has been ‘‘cherry-picked to suit the agenda’’.

‘‘We’ve been caught out too many times through the basin plan’s implementation ... we express concerns about its impact but these are ignored or sugar-coated,’’ the mayors said.

‘‘That cannot be allowed to happen on this occasion because there is too much at stake.

‘‘At such an important time it is therefore imperative that the Sefton report (compiled from consultations) is released before the meeting of ministers, so we can be confident our loud and clear messages of concern have been portrayed.

‘‘This is our future, so surely we’re entitled to know what it is based on.’’