Regional voices echo Suzanna Sheed’s concerns

By Geoff Adams

Katunga Primary School Council president, Paul Stammers, said when water leaves an area, so do the people.

“We have lost five kids from our school because their parents have had to find work elsewhere.”

He said water policy had ramifications beyond the farm-gate.

Golly Keane, from Northern Dairy Services, said water policy was damaging his business.

“We've had about a 40 per cent drop in turn-over in the last financial year compared to the previous.

“We've had 70 dairy farm customers shut up shop.

“I absolutely agree with what is said here today.

“I have spoken to Damian Drum personally and told him water policy is killing the industry.”

ACM dairy company director, John Hommes said since about July the company had lost about 15 per cent of its milk, representing about 40 million litres, largely because his suppliers can't get water.

While the basin plan was trying to push large volumes of water down the Barmah Choke, New South Wales farmers could not get a water allocation.

“It's pretty disheartening for farmers.”

Numurkah farmer, Stuart Hipwell, said leaders had to look at the broad picture and what water policy was doing to agriculture.

He said some of the damage could be traced back to the separation of water and land.

“Now the genie is out of the bottle.”

Numurkah dairy farmer, Mark Bryant 

Numurkah dairy farmer, Mark Bryant said he was supporting Suzanna Sheed's statement because a lot of people seem to be telling Mr Littleproud it’s a problem but he doesn’t seem to be listening.

“I would like to see the plan at least looked at, at why we still send water down to South Australia, whilst the water could be used on productive land and growing food.

“It’s more about your communities, it’s your families leaving, football clubs, schools, on little towns that you live in it’s huge, all of a sudden two, three, four, five families leave, it’s a big problem.”

Advanced Dairy Systems owner, Adrian Hayward

Advanced Dairy Systems owner, Adrian Hayward said he had been involved with the dairy industry for 20 years and over the last few years the way that the water industry had gone, he had seen a massive erosion of customers.

“It’s just killing the whole community, it’s effecting the farms and businesses associated with the farms, we have situations where we like to sponsor football clubs, we like to donate and now we’re saying to these people, ‘looking, we can’t give you those donations’.

“There’s such a network that dairy farmers support and employ and I honestly don’t think Littleproud and the government understand the knock off that’s taking place.

“I’d like to see a lot more transparency in the system, everybody is passing the buck, get off your backsides and get something sorted. It’s not just about water, it’s about communities.”