Emergency talks needed

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

The Murray Regional Strategy Group wants to work closely with new local Senator Perin Davey to develop a strong and sustainable future for the NSW Murray region.

Its chairman Alan Mathers has congratulated Senator Davey on her election to the Senate and said he was buoyed by having a local voice in the halls of Canberra.

‘‘Senator Davey has immense knowledge of our region including the challenges we are facing from changes to water policy over the past 20 or so years,’’ he said.

‘‘As we are all aware, this region has become collateral damage for some aspects of the plan that are not working as well as governments and authorities intended.

‘‘The Murray Regional Strategy Group looks forward to soon meeting with Senator Davey and discussing some of the solutions which we believe exist.’’

Mr Mathers said the first priority for the region was accessing an emergency allocation for general security licence holders who are now in their second year of zero allocation.

‘‘This is imperative. We have farmers walking off the land, having given up hope of a return to sustainability. This exodus must be stopped and an emergency allocation is the best immediate step. Action is required urgently,’’ Mr Mathers said.

He added the MRSG was committed to an adaptive and flexible Basin Plan that protects farming communities and the environment.

‘‘Senator Davey has been an advocate for this adaptive and flexible implementation, including during her years with Murray Irrigation Ltd, so we are pleased to have a like-minded person advocating for this approach.

‘‘As we have seen in recent reports the environment is suffering because too much water is being pushed down the river. The issue of constraints has been highlighted many times in recent years, but until this summer the problems that can be caused by excessive flows have not been as evident.

‘‘We are also seeing increased evidence of social and economic damage from the Basin Plan that is far greater than was originally modelled.

‘‘Our organisation supports the plan, but these unintended consequences need to be addressed.

‘‘The Board of the Murray Regional Strategy Group looks forward to fruitful discussions with Senator Davey, including a positive exchange of ideas on the best approach to delivering a plan that is fair to all, and allows our region’s farming communities to continue playing a role as one of the nation’s leading food bowls.

‘‘We can make a significant contribution to the national economy, and having a person with Senator Davey’s experience in water policy and management should help us achieve this goal,’’ Mr Mathers said.