Deniliquin Pastoral Times

More protests if no action

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Organisers of last week’s massive community water protest rally in Tocumwal are calling on politicians to respond to the motions that were passed.

They especially want responses from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Water Minister David Littleproud and Environment Minister Sussan Ley.

Spokesperson Jan Beer said the rally was told governments would be given two weeks to provide answers before the next line of protest was organised, and it was planned to stick with this deadline.

“We have been overwhelmed by the support during and since the rally, when at least 3000 people from across the Basin areas of southern New South Wales and northern Victoria gave up their time to attend because they want to make state and federal governments aware of the desperate situation they face due to poor water management.

“During dry periods irrigation water is normally a safeguard or backstop, but due to the Basin Plan that protection to our food production has disappeared. We need the plan fixed to secure the future of our farmers and the communities which rely on them,” Mrs Beer said.

The rally overwhelmingly supported four motions:

  • Motion 1: We call on the Victorian and NSW Governments to withdraw from the current implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
  • Motion 2: We call on the Federal Government to immediately pause, review and revise the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
  • Motion 3: We demand that the Federal Water Minister David Littleproud be removed immediately from his portfolio as we have no confidence or trust in his ability to deliver a Basin Plan on a sound economic, social and environmental footing.
  • Immediately allocate 1000 gigalitres of conveyance water to Southern Basin irrigators to provide immediate relief, particularly to those on their second successive year of zero allocation.

“We agreed that unless these motions are acted on within two weeks of the rally, increasing protest action will take place as Basin communities are desperate. We will hound governments and our political representatives until they take action,” Mrs Beer said.

She added the fact the 450GL of upwater cannot be delivered to South Australia has been admitted in private conversations by Minister Littleproud, yet he refuses to publicly state it.

“This is because the Coalition needs the South Australian political vote and is terrified of upsetting SA politicians. This is an appalling situation where Basin communities have become the sacrificial lambs, with a political agenda taking priority.”

Mrs Beer said politicians with a reasonable knowledge of the Basin Plan absolutely know that:

  • The 450GL cannot be acquired or delivered. This volume was added to the Basin Plan at the last minute to appease South Australia, avoid a High Court challenge by that state and gain the South Australian vote for the impending federal election.
  • “Protecting and restoring the environmental assets of the Murray Darling Basin” can only be achieved by returning the Lower Lakes to their historically estuarine state.
  • The construction of Lock Zero between Wellington and Tailem Bend would allow manipulation of flows over the barrages to flush the lakes and enable a saving of 2500GL/yr to be returned to the productive consumptive pool.
  • The proposed 80,000ML/day simply cannot be delivered to the South Australian border.
  • A relaxed constraints strategy is neither viable nor achievable under the Federal Government’s desire for overbank flood flows which would affect over 3000 landholders.

“It is time the Federal Government, in particular Water Minister Littleproud, acknowledged there are failings in the Basin Plan and took the necessary steps to fix them.

“Our communities showed their outrage in Tocumwal last week, and that will continue if we do not get some action by our deadline,” Mrs Beer said.