Water minister on his way to Shepparton

Visiting town: Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt. Photo by Geoff Adams

Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt is visiting Shepparton this week to meet water stakeholders and business leaders.

Water policy is likely to be a major issue for the seat of Nicholls, which is being vacated by Nationals MP Damian Drum at the next election.

Mr Pitt’s office would not disclose his itinerary, but confirmed he would be visiting the region this week.

Independent candidate for Nicholls Rob Priestly has called on the Liberal-National coalition “to be honest with irrigation communities about basin plan implementation”.

“Under basin plan legislation, the plan must be completed by 2024.

“However, there are still large volumes of water to be recovered for environmental use and state-led programs intended to achieve this have failed to do so. The remaining alternative is the government purchasing irrigators entitlements, reducing the productive capacity of irrigation areas,” Mr Priestly said.

“Unfortunately, the Liberals and Nationals current strategy of pretending everything is fine in the face of a looming disaster is helping nobody. They seem more interested in politics than outcomes for our region,” Mr Priestly said.

“Why is the federal water minister maintaining the fantasy that the basin plan can be delivered on time and in full, without further buybacks? The government is on a path to either fail to deliver the plan in its current form or harm irrigation communities through buybacks.”

“The Liberal and National Party have been in charge of implementing the plan for nine years and are now cancelling critical meetings to fix its failings. It is five minutes to midnight, and our community must be told what they are planning to do.”