The outstanding community support being received by the Speak Up Campaign Inc. was again highlighted at its inaugural members’ meeting in Deniliquin on Thursday.
More than 50 members and interested organisations travelled from various parts of southern NSW, northern Victoria and the Goulburn Valley to attend.
They included representatives from local government, irrigation and farming organisations, community groups and interested farmers.
Speak Up chair Shelley Scoullar said the meeting discussed a range of issues relating to the need to find a balance that shares our water resources effectively to achieve environmental outcomes, but with limited detriment to food and fibre producers and the regional communities which rely on them for prosperity.
Guest speaker at the meeting was world renowned river scientist Dr John Conallin, who spoke about the best ways to encourage native fish breeding, including the need for effective European carp control.
Mrs Scoullar, in her chair’s report, covered various activities undertaken by Speak Up including development of its ‘Balancing the Basin Plan’ document, and its successful water forum.
She said the organisation had been able to get coverage of issues, particularly relating to the Basin Plan, in a vast range of regional and national media.
‘‘At every opportunity we highlight in a positive way the assets of the region which are going to waste — we have fertile soils, gravity feed modern irrigation systems close to storages, established transport and value adding facilities, close to port, plus energetic, passionate and motivated farmers who want to produce high quality, clean green food and fibre.
‘‘But it is essential that we also recognise and acknowledge the truth — and this includes negatives of the Basin Plan such as the social, economic and environmental impacts on the communities around us.
‘‘Governments do not always get it right – pink batts and school halls are two examples of this. So we have two choices.
‘‘We can go along with the Basin Plan, which may suit some who are asset building and thinking of retirement. Or we can speak up for those who want to get water onto our farms and be productive, by highlighting the flaws and mistruths in the Basin Plan and the Water Act.
‘‘If we continue down the path of recovering the proposed 450 gigalitres of ‘upwater’ our region as we know it will be lost, and for no good reason.
‘‘With persistence and determination, we will continue to Speak Up.’’