Water

SRI and Sussan Ley disagree over health of Barmah-Millewa Forest

By Rodney Woods

Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Chris Brooks has called for answers to vital questions about environmental damage along the Murray River.

Mr Brooks says it is imperative that Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley takes seriously the damage being caused in her electorate.

“We developed a basin plan that was supposed to be flexible and protecting the environment,” he said.

“It is not flexible and because of that our environment is suffering.

“Every man and his dog can see what is happening, but nothing is being done about it.

“My preference would be to meet with Ms Ley and have an open, mature conversation about how we can fix the problems that exist.

“Unfortunately, she refuses to meet with me, so I have sent her a letter and hope to get a response.

“The questions are based on professional scientific advice; I have been assured by scientific experts they are legitimate concerns about our environment that need to be asked and addressed.”

The letter sent to Ms Ley was mainly focused on the health of the Barmah-Millewa Forest.

“I am not quite sure which scientific experts Chris is consulting with, but the facts on Barmah-Millewa Forest are actually pretty clear,” Ms Ley said.

“No mature stands of river red gums have been killed or negatively affected by environmental flows.

“I am informed some red gums on slightly higher ground are now extremely stressed, many dying due to less water being delivered down the Murray, not just for irrigators but all users of the system.

“The federal and state governments are working as hard we can to achieve better balance to the basin plan, including three current inquiries now being finalised (Keelty, Sefton and ACCC reviews), which I want to see help every single community which works and lives in our country’s most important food bowl.

“The letter Mr Brooks mentions was received by my office three days after his press release and I will work with my department in fully replying to his concerns.”