The NSW Government is well aware that Deniliquin and the Southern Riverina are key irrigation regions in the state, according to recently elected NSW Member for Murray Austin Evans.
Mr Evans, when in Deniliquin earlier this month, said he had already received an indication from senior ministers that he would have a vital role to play in any further decision making regarding productive water.
‘‘New South Wales Water Minister Niall Blair has already approached me and acknowledged that we need to work closely together,’’ Mr Evans said.
‘‘He recognises this region is where most of the water sits.
‘‘While I was in Deniliquin I met with numerous water stakeholder groups, and one thing they all agreed on was that we don’t want any more water buy-backs.
‘‘I know there is a lot of nervousness about the proposed 450 gigalitres of upwater — especially now that Federal Water Minister Barnaby Joyce is not in Parliament.
‘‘A motion to deal with this 450 gigalitres will be raised at the next MINCO (Ministerial Council) meeting.’’
Earlier this year Mr Blair commissioned a report on the upwater proposal — called the Aither report — which found the Basin Plan provisions do not account for impacts on people who are not directly participating in the program.
When he released the report, Mr Blair said ‘‘to be confident the Basin Plan’s upwater program is not going to set regional New South Wales further back, we need to consider outcomes of the program not only for the individual participant but the broader community’’.
For the sentiment to be echoed by a Labor Victorian Government, Mr Evans said it was a clear indication that something was not right.
Mr Evans said he can offer a rare insight into the workings of the irrigation industry to his Parliamentary colleagues.
For the past 13 years he was general manager operations with Coleambally Irrigation, on the Murrumbidgee system.
He resigned from this position after winning the Murray by-election last month.
Speak Up spokesperson Shelley Scoullar said she had a ‘‘very productive’’ meeting with Mr Evans during his visit.
She said she came away from the meeting with a real sense that Mr Evans is committed to working with locals.
‘‘A number of issues were discussed, and high on the list was water,’’ Mrs Scoullar said.
‘‘It included asking for advice on improving relationships with the New South Wales Department of Industry — now referred to as CLAW (Crown Lands and Water) — so that local knowledge and experience is valued and used to ensure the new Water Resource Plans maximise the availability of productive water.
‘‘We also discussed the concerns for growers in the region who do not have permanent water entitlements, which makes them reliant on the temporary market.
‘‘Also raised were our concerns that the Murray Darling Basin Authority is ignoring the negative impacts of the Basin Plan, such as river bank erosion, carp population explosions and flooding impacts.’’
Mrs Scoullar said the discussion also extended beyond the important water debate, in an effort to stem issues like decentralisation and to gauge his support for other projects that could boost productivity and sustainability.
‘‘We discussed our concerns about the removal of government agencies from the region over the past 20 years, and the impact it has had on the region.
‘‘This region has so much potential and with good policy we can work towards reaching that.
‘‘It could include reversing the National Parks and returning them to working forests, maintaining essential services at the Deniliquin Hospital, obtaining Hallmark Status for the Deniliquin Ute Muster to cut its policing costs and the Deniliquin Airport upgrade which would benefit plans to introduce a freight hub service in Deniliquin.’’