Plea for 'fair go' from controversial basin plan

January 06, 2018

Chair of the Murray River Group Adrian Weston said the communities just want a fair go when it comes to delivering the Basin Plan.

VICTORIAN irrigation communities have a simple message for Basin Ministers ahead of the upcoming Ministerial Council meeting

‘‘Listen to our stories of innovation and change and acknowledge our efforts and the impact — see how it is affecting us.’’

The Murray River Group of Councils (MRGC) has delivered a communique to Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville on behalf of northern Victorian communities for the Murray Darling Basin Ministers.

Chair of the Murray River Group Adrian Weston said the communities just want a fair go when it comes to delivering the Basin Plan.

“Here in northern Victoria we have done a lot of the heavy lifting and we have delivered water to benefit the environment across the Basin,’’ he said.

“Our communities want healthy working rivers. We want balance; healthy wetlands, trees and wildlife and healthy people, living in the Basin together.”

The MRGC is asking Lisa Neville to communicate the efforts of northern Victorian communities to get environmental outcomes for the whole Basin.

“Our irrigators have innovated and our communities have adapted. They have become some of the most efficient irrigators in the world, they’ve had to” Cr Weston said.

“They have invested in changing their practices to manage with less water, to make sure they are better able to face the dry times.

“This effort has come from our whole communities, individuals, families, businesses and not just from farmers. It flows right through our towns.’’

The MRGC is asking Ministers to reject methods of socio-economic analysis that don’t reflect the pain already felt by northern Victorian communities in delivering the Basin Plan.

“Reports that say communities are not hurting just don’t pass the pub test,’’ Cr Weston said.

“Local Government is there helping communities to manage the changes.

We are seeing the impact on the ground. This is what we hear, day in, day out from our communities.

‘‘We see it, we hear it and we live it with our communities.

“There is already deep mistrust in our region of those responsible for delivering the plan – don’t make it worse by disregarding the impacts and the efforts of our communities to adapt.

“If these efforts are not recognised, if they get swept under the carpet, then decisions will be made that send more people from the Basin to the capital cities and I’m talking about the impacts of recovering an extra 450 GL of water.

“The fact is that if more water goes from northern Victoria, then the people will go too.”

Cr Weston said the next ‘‘big dry’’ is the real worry.

‘‘If we lose more water from our districts, then when we get a long dry period, a lot of our communities just won’t recover,’’ he said.

‘‘We ask Ministers to listen to our stories, give our communities a fair go and give the Basin’s birds, fish and trees a chance to show us all what’s already been achieved.’’

The Murray River Group of Councils comprises six councils — Mildura and Swan Hill Rural City Councils and Loddon, Gannawarra, Campaspe and Moira Shires.

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