Mayors rally to water cause

By Country News

Southern NSW mayors have recognised the value of a rally which took the region’s concerns about water issues to Melbourne.

They have congratulated the Speak Up campaign for organising the December 14 rally, as well as everyone who participated.

It was held in conjunction with a meeting of state and federal water ministers and saw hundreds of people marching and chanting along Collins St, before gathering outside the Park Hyatt where the Ministerial Council meeting was held.

Berrigan Shire Mayor Matt Hannan, who participated in the march and rally, congratulated the Speak Up campaign for the huge amount of work which was involved in organising the event.

He spoke on behalf of four councils in southern NSW — Berrigan, Edward River, Murray River and Murrumbidgee — who are all members of the Murray Regional Strategy Group campaigning for water policy that protects regional communities.

‘‘When I participated in the rally I could sense the pride of our communities, as well as a high level frustration and a determination to get a fair go,’’ Cr Hannan said.

‘‘We have been let down by the (Murray-Darling) Basin Plan, governments and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority which is responsible for its implementation.

‘‘We wanted our message and our voices heard; there’s no doubt that was achieved.’’

Cr Hannan said bringing together and co-ordinating communities from across the NSW Murray, Murrumbidgee, northern Victoria and Goulburn Valley was not an easy task.

‘‘My congratulations to the organisers for their outstanding work, as well as everyone who was up early in the morning, some before 4am, to get to Southern Cross in time to march.’’

Cr Hannan said Australia’s food bowl and the communities that rely on farm production were under attack from a basin plan that was failing the nation.

He said Melbourne residents were made aware that these are the people who put food on the city tables and clothes on the backs of its people, and there must be a policy shift to allow this to continue.

‘‘On behalf of the four mayors in southern NSW I call on governments to adopt a practical, common-sense approach to the basin plan in 2019.

‘‘Work with our communities, not against us, to protect both our environment and our prosperity.’’