Meeting to form a new water body

By Country News

An irrigation action group comprised of local farmers and representatives of agricultural bodies may be formed to represent northern Victorians.

A meeting to discuss the formation of the new committee will be held next week in Katandra.

Some irrigators and farmers believe the current groups, such as the National Farmers’ Federation and Northern Victorian Irrigation Communities, do not properly represent them.

The purpose of the new committee would be to respond to an inquiry into the Murray-Darling Basin, being undertaken by interim inspector-general of basin water resources Mick Keelty, which will be submitted on March 31.

Retired irrigator Barry Croke, from Kialla, had the responsibility of organising the meeting thrust upon him.

“In the first place, the committee will be looking to respond promptly to what results from Keelty’s report,” he said.

The meeting will clarify what area the new body will represent, as there are already several pre-existing groups.

Suggestions have been given to call the new committee a ‘Shepparton’ group, but there has been confusion regarding what area the Shepparton irrigation district would encompass.

The idea was sparked by Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Chris Brooks at a discussion following a public meeting with Mr Keelty in Shepparton, as part of his inquiry on Thursday, February 27.

About 100 people remained to hear Mr Brooks speak, who urged the community to nominate themselves or others to form a group of representatives who possess a wide range of knowledge.

“It was a very positive step that there were enough people wanting to take control of their own water use,” Mr Brooks said.

“It's (the committee's job) to work in conjunction with other water groups.

“There needed to be one in Shepparton and there will be one in Cobram, then you’ve got a footprint of locals from Murray-Goulburn district growers, rather than leaving it to the VFF — who have been disastrous for the region and have facilitated water leaving the area.

“These blokes are going to fight for their own water and tell the government what they really think.”

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 11 at the Katandra Football Netball Club from 11 am, with a barbecue lunch provided by the Katandra Men’s Shed.

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