Farmers put demand list to Dalton

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

The NSW Farmers Association’s Bunnaloo branch has formally requested new Member for Murray Helen Dalton push for a pause to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

In a list of priorities sent to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers member, the branch also called for an immediate release of water for autumn watering and a cessation of fees for water farmers are paying for but cannot access.

It also demands compensation for loss of production due to mismanagement of water being sent to South Australia among a list of short and long term requests it wants to see enacted.

Branch president Richard Ham said the list represents what local producers need to see happen for confidence in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and water management processes to be restored.

He said the failure to achieve that to date clearly played a large role in the results of the NSW election, which saw Mrs Dalton elected in the first place.

‘‘It has been evident here that the availability of irrigation water is a huge issue. The Murray electorate understood this, they understood that ample water was held in storages built largely for drought mitigation,’’ Mr Ham said.

‘‘They did not understand, however, why the New South Wales Government and the Murray Darling Basin Authority insisted on over flooding the forests, sending fresh water to waste in the evaporation ponds in South Australia and out to sea.

‘‘They were rightly indignant that the Murray River was running at flood levels in the spring but farmers on the New South Wales side of the Murray (River) have a zero water allocation.’’

The full list of short-term priorities sent to Mrs Dalton includes:

●An immediate release of water so farmers in the Murray electorate can undertake some autumn watering.

●Accounting for the reported more than 300 gigalitres of water ‘‘lost’’ in the forest due to attempts by the water authorities to force excess water through the Barmah choke, and then returning this water to irrigators as a life saving allocation.

●Compensating irrigators for the loss of farm production arising from mismanagement to meet New South Wales commitments to South Australia.

●Transparency and limitations on temporary water transfers of NSW water to other states.

●Ceasing fees for water farmers are unable to access. The Banking Royal Commission’s exposure and denunciation of ‘‘fees for no service’’ is not dissimilar to ‘‘fees for no water’’.

●Pausing and undertaking a fundamental review of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

Longer term requests of Mrs Dalton are:

●A re-assessment of the Water Sharing Plans between the states.

●Reviewing water title ownership to ensure owners have fair access to their property.

●Building water storages.

●Establishing an authority charged with investigating and developing schemes like the Snowy Hydro Scheme — like the Bradfield Proposal and the Clarence River Scheme.

‘‘While there were many challenges ahead on the water front, several reforms are necessary if the Murray electorate is to have a successful future in agriculture and a vibrant future for our inland communities,’’ Mr Ham said.