Water not discussed at climate change inquiry

By Country News

Victorian MP Darren Cheeseman says based on evidence presented at an inquiry «« on February 12 »» last week, Shepparton is prepared to tackle climate change.

Mr Cheeseman and his colleagues on the parliamentary Environment and Planning Committee were at the Mooroopna Education and Activity Centre on February 12 as part of an inquiry into the effect of climate change on Victorian communities.

The panel heard from Greater Shepparton City Council representatives as well as people from Moira, Mitchell and Campaspe shires, plus the North East Regional Sustainability Alliance and Goulburn Valley Community Energy.

But it did not hear from any farming groups.

During his interview with Country News, Mr Cheeseman said because of climate change there would be less water for farmers.

Despite this, he said the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was not brought up by local representatives.

“Because of climate change we're going to see less rain, so less water, more drought and more heat, which means, ultimately, farming practices are going to change,” Mr Cheeseman said.

“Communities are already experiencing the consequences of climate change and this community has recognised that.

“It's developing its own initiatives, and this inquiry really is about hearing what they are.”

Mr Cheeseman said he understood irrigation was a "profoundly important economic asset" to the area.

“We know because of climate change, in a general sense, there will be less water available for commercial activity,” he said.

“So in terms of responding to climate change it's about making sure that our farms are as drought-resilient as possible; that we use water obviously as efficiently and effectively as possible.

“I know that would be on the mind of many communities throughout the Murray-Darling Basin, but no evidence has been heard today around some of those challenges, and I'm sure they'll be dealt with in other Commonwealth processes.”

Mr Cheeseman said the panel heard a lot of "really good" evidence about initiatives that had been undertaken at the local level to combat climate change.

“It's principally driven by local government but also some of the community groups within the area.”

He said Greater Shepparton City Council discussed the challenges it faced as an entity.

“Through the course of the presentation by the local government groups they spoke about energy efficiency.

“They talked about the Australian building code, their planning schemes and how the state government might best set policy directions and legislation that enables local government to ensure that our communities respond to climate change.

“And that includes having appropriate building codes so that our homes are built in a way that will meet the challenges of climate change.

“So that's making sure things like insulation (are in place), so the energy costs to heat or cool a house are as low as possible."

Mr Cheeseman said no apparent climate change sceptics presented to the panel.

“From the evidence, absolutely they're (Shepparton) prepared to tackle climate change,” he said.

“They're all focused on the consequences of climate change.

“I think the broader Shepparton and north-east (Victoria) communities are meeting those challenges.”