NSW irrigators are ‘desperate’

By Country News

‘‘It clearly shows the level of desperation with these farmers.’’

Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum was speaking last week about Southern Riverina Irrigators’ class action against the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

In May the NSW-based water advocacy group said it was seeking compensation of lost productivity because of alleged mismanagement by the MDBA.

Mr Drum said he didn’t know how SRI would fare with the class action, but believed some of its issues were state-based.

‘‘These farmers have tried to engage the water authority, state government and trying to look at the impact of the basin plan,’’ he said.

‘‘SRI’s main problems don’t have a lot to do with the plan and most of their issues are around allocation, which is (a) state issue.

‘‘Their issues are based around what other irrigators further north have been able to do.

‘‘This is their major concerns they expressed to me, when we met prior to the election.’’

Mr Drum said part of the class action had come from SRI unable to get ‘‘any traction on a whole raft of issues it’s frustrated about’’.

‘‘They put a price on the amount of water that was effectively lost by putting water into the Barmah Forest at a time when it was mismanaged.

‘‘SRI is saying if that water wasn’t wasted and if it wasn’t flushed down the Murray River at an inappropriate time, then that water would’ve been available for them.

‘‘I don’t know SRI’s chances legally, but I can certainly understand the frustration they feel.

‘‘And that frustration is represented by many of my irrigators as well.’’