New strategy to protect GMID from changing future

By James Bennett

Greater Shepparton City Council has agreed to support a new strategy to help prepare and adapt to changes faced by the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.

The Goulburn Murray Resilience Strategy takes into account many changes outside of council's control including climate change, technology improvements, water recovery, global markets and biosecurity.

The strategy consists of eight Resilience Principles that outline how the region can manage its future:

● Develop a complexity perspective of the world;

● Design for flexibility;

● Develop governance that embraces change;

● Manage networks and connectivity;

● Focus on slow variables, leverage and tipping points;

● Foster cohesion, self-organisation and local responsibility;

● Learn for change;

● Value, retain and build response and recovery capacity.

The council will also act in an advocacy role for a number of the key components including indigenous crop production to support reviving traditional crops and establishing a Goulburn Murray learning centre to act as a regional base for agriculture learning and land management.

Cr Dennis Patterson said there were about 1600 irrigators who had had pressure put on them by climate change, drought and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

“There's a lot of water being transferred out of the region that's meant we've had an overall loss of around 50 per cent of our irrigation water; which has a very major impact on our ratepayers and whole region,” he said.

“A lot of people who aren't employed on farms are still employed in factories that are processing milk and fruit, so it's very important we address this.

“We're looking at different ways we can produce food and how we can use water.

“There's lots that can be done and that's why we're doing it.”

Cr Fern Summer said the strategy provided a futuristic and innovative outlook.

Despite her support, Cr Summer said the document possibly missed a reduction element.

“Perhaps we can be making the best of a simple life; not building large things,” she said.

“We could be doing more with less and living within our means. The focus in this document is about shifting the economy and keeping it afloat, but perhaps we might need to look beyond profits in other areas, or in the future reverses of the strategy, and look towards our own personal values.”

Cr Adem said there were correlations between the strategy and the council's Rural Land Use Strategy.

“If we do review that other strategy (Rural Land Use) I think this would be a great document to refer to because it has many changes and considerations that have been considered for 10 or so years,” he said.

A Regional Resilience Taskforce will be established to address issues in the strategy.