News

PM meeting request is in

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been asked to accept a delegation from the Speak Up Campaign to discuss the severe impact of water policy on southern NSW and northern Victoria.

It follows an impassioned plea to the Prime Minister in a letter organised by Speak Up and signed by 14 other organisations.

The letter was published on the front page of the Pastoral Times on Tuesday.

Speak Up chair Shelley Scoullar said Member for Farrer Sussan Ley wrote to Mr Morrison on Wednesday morning, asking him to accept a delegation.

‘‘We are extremely grateful to the Pastoral Times for the support it gave to our letter, which has had a significant impact. The letter has been viewed more than 40,000 times on social media and led to numerous radio interviews.

‘‘Mr Morrison needs to understand the gravity of our situation, not only for food and fibre producers across the Southern Basin, but also small businesses and communities.

‘‘Trying to deliver the message that food security is at risk under the Basin Plan is an enormous task, but if our leading politicians do not start taking notice of the frustration being felt, I’m concerned they will have French-style protests on their hands.’’

Mrs Scoullar added the message which our politicians and the general public do not seem to understand is that those most severely impacted by poor water reform are those who put staple foods on our tables — milk, beef, lamb, wheat for bread, rice, fruit and vegetables. That means every Australian will be affected if tough decisions are not made.

‘‘We had an excellent response to our public letter to the Prime Minister, but the time for words is over. We need action. Speak Up has been working for more than three years to provide united and consistent messages from southern New South Wales and northern Victoria about issues with the Basin Plan.

‘‘Communities are past breaking point, but our politicians continue to put bad water policy in the too hard basket. If that doesn’t change soon I suspect there will be farming protests at a level this country has never seen.

‘‘We don’t want it to get to that point, but what do farmers do when politicians continue to ignore their plight?’’

Mrs Scoullar emphasised Speak Up and other organisations were not just complaining about the problems with water policy, they had developed effective solutions, as follows:

●Standardised metering, telemetry and compliance across the entire basin, with the Basin Plan to be paused until Northern Basin metering has been installed.

●Return flows from south-east South Australia to the southern Coorong, install Lock Zero and modernise barrages.

●Allow for flexible and adaptive Sustainable Diversion Limit projects.

●A revision of water markets.

●The Murray River should not be expected to deliver the Darling River’s share of flows to South Australia when the Darling is not flowing.

Mrs Scoullar said Speak Up looks forward to having an opportunity to discuss these and other issues with the Prime Minister, and try to increase his understanding of the devastation being felt in rural communities.

‘‘We need strong leadership that tells city ideologists their unrealistic and ill-informed interference in the water policy debate is putting hard working, genuine farmers on a knife’s edge and threatening the future of rural communities. And it’s all for the wrong reasons,’’ Mrs Scoullar said.