Fresh start needed to fix water crisis, says Speak Up

By Rodney Woods

Farming and community groups throughout southern NSW are calling for a fresh start in 2020 from their federal MP Sussan Ley.

They want the Federal Member for Farrer to take a more collaborative approach and work with them on solutions to the present water crisis.

Speak Up Campaign deputy chair Lachlan Marshall said since last year's federal election Ms Ley had not met with various local organisations.

“Out of sheer frustration, during the election campaign many people in the water debate questioned whether Ms Ley was doing enough for her constituents,” Mr Marshall said.

“We believe this was reasonable commentary, considering the dire predicament our farmers and communities have been forced into under a failing basin plan.

“Unfortunately, since the election we have been unable to effectively engage with Ms Ley.

“We all need to put aside past differences and start working together for our communities.

“I’m sure that is what people expect from their local member.”

Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Chris Brooks openly supported independent candidate Kevin Mack during the election campaign, and has also been a driving force behind a class action seeking $750 million in damages from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority for alleged water mismanagement.

Ms Ley has refused to meet with the key drivers behind the class action, which includes Mr Brooks and other members of the SRI executive, claiming she cannot do so for legal reasons.

However, Federal Water Minister David Littleproud met with Mr Brooks and SRI deputy chair Darcy Hare in Canberra in December.

“It seems a bit of a cop-out,” Mr Brooks said.

“It’s a bit strange when the environment minister says she can’t meet us, but the water resources minister says he can.

“All we want is for governments to listen to our concerns and help provide more water so we can grow food and fibre for our nation.

“We also want a stop to the environmental damage being caused by the basin plan; it’s hard to understand why the environment minister will not engage with us.”