News

Convoy wants Canberra to can the plan

By Sophie Baldwin

On December 2, cars, trucks, utes and buses will descend on the national capital to protest the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and water policy that is hurting agriculture.

Organised by representatives across the southern basin, the Convoy to Canberra is calling on our leaders to "can the plan''.

Organiser Jan Beer said the main message was to stop the plan and get immediate water back to farmers.

“There has been massive damage socially, economically and environmentally across the basin since the introduction of the plan,” Mrs Beer said.

“We want farmers to be given immediate access to 1000 Gl of conveyance loss water so they can get on with the business of irrigating and growing food and fibre for our nation.”

Chris Brooks said while farmers were always busy and there was never a good time, he urged everyone to jump on board and support the convoy.

“The security of our region is at stake,” Mr Brooks said.

“If we can get conservative farmers to Canberra the government will know with absolute certainty all the negative impacts of the bad policies they have implemented — these impacts are real and the government can no longer ignore us.

“They will have to address them or continue to lose more seats.”

Mr Brooks said feedback from across NSW and Victoria had been positive and, to date, there were 14 buses booked for the convoy, coming from as far afield as Mildura, Albury and northern Victoria.

Even dental technician Suzie Holmes from Ipswich is jumping on board.

She is in the process of organising a simultaneous rally in solidarity, somewhere in Queensland.

“Everyone up here wants to do something,” Ms Holmes said.

“We are tired and angry our farmers are continually treated the way they are. Without farmers we have nothing and just because we are city folk doesn't mean we don't care.

“We need to send a message to government and we all need to stand up and show our support for rural Australia — this plan must be stopped.”

Cobram maintenance man Shane Bugge is heading to the rally along with family, a few mates, and a green VS Statesman with a #cantheplan banner.

“We have always fished and camped along the river and for the last couple of years we have watched copious amounts of water go past,” Mr Bugge said.

“We thought it was all getting out of control and decided to look into it — farmers are pulling their hair out and this whole basin plan is nuts.

“The more people that support this rally the better.”

Katunga dairy farmers Greg and Karen Rowlands have grave concerns about the future of water security if things continue the way they are.

Cohuna Neighborhood House manager Tanya Black is attending the rally as a concerned community member.

“In my role I see how our farmers in this district are really going and it is devastating,” Ms Black said.

“The ripple effect is only just starting to hit and things will get worse."

The Convoy to Canberra will meet at the 24-hour Caltex service station at Yass on Monday, December 2 at 11 am before rolling into Canberra.

For more information, phone John Lolicato on 0428 539 226, Darcy Hare on 0437 459 297 or Jan Beer on 0407 144 777.

Northern Victorian Irrigation Communities is organising free bus transport, with buses leaving Shepparton, Numurkah and Cobram early Monday morning. The buses will return the same day. For bookings phone Anita Seiter on 0431 246 632.