No more talkfests

By Geoff Adams

Federal Water Minister David Littleproud recently appointed Mick Keelty as Interim Inspector-General of Murray-Darling Basin water resources.

The scope of his inquiry includes examining the impact of changing distribution of inflow to the southern basin.

It will also cover the impact of such changes on state water shares, water allocation policies and water reserves. This is quite perplexing in itself, and even more so when they claim to be doing this under four themes — inflows and supply, delivery, water sharing and opportunity for enhancement.

Northern Victorian Irrigation Communities has prepared a submission to the inquiry and intends to use it when we attend a public meeting in Shepparton.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has yet to set a date, but it should be in a week or so.

We have decided to do this, confident there may be greater interest in listening, analysing our suggestions and adopting changes that can arrest the devastating predicaments in our irrigation community.

Without real action our region has the most serious challenges to the former strength of its underlying irrigated primary production, which drives the economy of our communities. More talk fests are totally untenable.

The deterioration of our irrigation communities is nothing short of disgraceful and has come about from a combination of the severe lack of sensible leadership in the MDBA, governments with minimal interest in monitoring the consequences of MDBA actions.

Furthermore our industry bodies can too frequently be blinded by self-interest and unable to shape significantly the resulting public water policy.

So long as the MDBA remains answerable to no-one and there continues to be a lack of transparency in so many areas of water management, our leaders’ efforts are seriously compromised.

Even within our irrigated industries, corporates are now managing to shape aspects of water policy and we believe this needs close attention.

The recent rally in Canberra demonstrated what can be achieved when irrigation communities unite.

NVIC is continuing discussions with the NSW Riverina groups to ensure the national benefits of the irrigation communities in the southern basin can be re-established.

Even though each state and irrigation district may have their unique set of rules relating to water, which have helped shape their communities, we must work together to ensure they persist.

NVIC feels confident working with our neighbouring NSW Riverina groups. While South Australia again has full water allocation, it stands to reason that any future water savings should be shared between NSW and Victoria.

We encourage individuals to make comment to the inquiry by accessing the Department of Agriculture website and going to the bottom of the page under ‘useful links’ and selecting ‘on-line engagement’ then filing out the ‘Enquiry into Management of Murray Darling Basin Water Resources'. It has to be done by January 19. Most importantly, attend the Shepparton meeting once you find out when it is on.

Anita Seiter

Secretary, Northern Victorian Irrigation Communities