NSW Nationals’ Senator Perin Davey has been described as ‘‘possibly the last hope’’ for achieving balanced water policy that supports the region’s food producers.
Senator Davey has called for an investigation into ‘‘how to better manage our precious resources so we can get more sustainable outcomes for farmers without compromising the environment and vice versa’’.
Speak Up Campaign deputy chairman Lachlan Marshall, who has had recent discussions with Senator Davey, said it was imperative that she keeps up the fight on behalf of struggling food producers in her region.
‘‘Senator Davey last week highlighted concerns from the Independent Social and Economic Panel which has found river communities are suffering. We have had numerous other reports calling for changes to the Basin Plan, yet they keep falling on deaf ears.
‘‘We have no doubt the Murray-Darling Basin Authority is desperately trying to save its very existence, but this organisation is not implementing the fair and balanced Basin Plan that we were promised.
We were told it would be flexible and adaptive, but that is certainly not the case.
‘‘We welcome the support from Senator Davey and we understand that it will be extremely difficult for her to convince National Party colleagues that they must start standing up for our communities.
‘‘But I think she is probably our last hope,’’ Mr Marshall said.
He added it was obvious our region was not going to get support from Liberal Party Member for Farrer Sussan Ley, who is content to toe the party line rather than cause disruption and call out the Basin Plan for the disaster that it is.
‘‘Nor do we expect support from former Water Minister David Littleproud, who has let us down in the past.
‘‘It is quite obvious to this point that new Water Minister Keith Pitt lacks an understanding of the complex water issue, so we are hoping Senator Davey can bring him to this region for a visit that allows time to talk with our local organisations and discuss the solutions we know exist.
‘‘Senator Davey has a long history in water policy and management and probably more knowledge in this area than all her parliamentary colleagues combined, so they need to take note of what she is saying.
‘‘We need the problems solved, however for this to be achieved we must have a Commonwealth Government with the courage to admit that the Basin Plan’s implementation has not gone well, with many unintended consequences, so change is necessary.
‘‘As Senator Davey said last week, it’s time to ‘draw a line in the sand’, and we must ‘support all of those communities’ along the river system.
‘‘We are relying on Senator Davey to convince her parliamentary colleagues that the ‘line in the sand’ must be drawn immediately, before there is more damage to these communities.
‘‘The starting point should be adopting the Productivity Commission recommendation and splitting up the MDBA. We need to scrap this organisation and start again, demanding that our bureaucrats protect the nation’s food producing interests,’’ Mr Marshall said.