Message delivered

By James Bennett

Members of the Murray Regional Strategy Group are demanding action from Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud, after some are confident the region’s message has resonated.

The group made up of local government, water advocacy groups and other Murray Darling Basin stakeholders met with the minister during his visit to Deniliquin on Thursday.

According to Speak Up spokesperson Shelley Scoullar, a ‘‘united voice’’ directly told of the major impacts the region has suffered from the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

She said Mr Littleproud sympathised with the group as his electorate (Maranoa) has also been impacted by the plan.

‘‘He listened and the community in his electorate are feeling some of the same pain that we are.

‘‘He spoke honestly that it’s a political challenge moving forward but we spoke really frankly to him and spoke about the real issues happening in our community, the severe impacts and the uncertainty of our future.

‘‘Two years ago we experienced a major flood and we were on 50 per cent water allocation, now we have water in the damns and we’re on zero per cent allocation and that is scary for our future.

‘‘A number of us spoke about the opportunities for our children, if they want to get into farming and it’s not something you can switch on-and-off, it’s in your blood.

‘‘We still have a big fight on our hands, my feeling is, if other people within parliament were able to move in our direction then certainly David would support that... it’s not as if he’s against sensible solutions it’s just he needs more support from other members of parliament,’’ Mrs Scoullar said.

Edward River Council Mayor Norm Brennan believes there’s a chance action will be taken by the minister and said Mr Littleproud had a proven track record.

‘‘There are many farmers who I’ve spoken with that are happy with what Mr Littleproud has done with his response to the live export of sheep.

‘‘Others are telling me, he should be commended with his stance on the Australian Wool Innovation, so there has been two positive steps.

‘‘Overall I’m happy with the report, we were able to give him.

‘‘You can’t walk away expecting something to happen overnight. He knows what’s happening and obviously with the drought and no water allocation it isn’t helping.

‘‘We said any further extraction of water from the 450 Gl is not supported by the community,’’ Cr Brennan said.

Although some members walked out of the meeting with ‘‘some degree’’ of confidence, Berrigan Shire general manager Rowan Perkins didn’t feel the same sentiment.

Mr Perkins said he didn’t believe ‘‘much was achieved’’.

‘‘We’re sick of being collateral damage for political drought and political floods.

‘‘Existing reliability of irrigation water is around 50 per cent... no industry can sustain itself with that reliability.

‘‘We’re over politics and just want them to govern, I’m not confident we’ll see change and we’ve never once been able to get any change from the Murray Darling Basin Assocation,’’ Mr Perkins said.