Communities request new MDBA chair to visit Murray and Murrumbidgee

By Jamie Salter

Southern NSW irrigators are calling for the newly appointed Murray-Darling Basin Authority chair to visit the Murray and Murrumbidgee regions.

Former Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston was announced as the new chair on August 8.

Speak Up chair Shelley Scoullar said Sir Angus needed to develop the MDBA’s community consultation and involvement.

“Our communities are frustrated and disappointed with the MDBA’s ongoing refusal to effectively communicate and engage,” Mrs Scoullar said.

“It refuses to acknowledge shortcomings in the basin plan, nor work collaboratively to implement a fair and effective plan.

“Several years ago the MDBA came to Deniliquin and promised ongoing dialogue and communication.

“However, as soon as we questioned some of their actions this quickly stopped.”

Mrs Scollar added concerns regarding Sir Angus’ lack of experience in water.

“While we have the greatest respect for his distinguished defence career, he must not fall into the trap of only listening to the bureaucrats, who have their own agenda,” she said.

“He must also be aware that his bosses at the Liberal Party are more concerned with South Australian votes in marginal seats than the welfare of our rural people, as Coalition members have already acknowledged.”

A joint statement from MDBA acting chair Professor Stuart Bunn, Joanna Hewitt, Susan Madden and chief executive Phillip Glyde said Sir Angus would work towards managing the basin in the national interest.

“Sir Angus’ extensive experience defending Australia and bringing different interests together to work towards a common goal means he is well-placed to lead our agency for the next stage of implementation ahead,” they said.