News

One voice on Canberra convoy

By Daniel Hughes

Fifty trucks carrying farm machinery and regional produce will roll in to Australia’s capital on Monday to send a clear massage that current water management is failing our nation.

Many of the trucks and the 2000 regional community members expected to attend the Convoy to Canberra are expected to come from the Southern Riverina region.

Quite a few will arrive by bus, with 12 arranged to leave from basin communities to join to convoy departing Yass to set up a ‘water embassy’ in Canberra.

Continuing on Wednesday, the convoy is being coordinated by food producers and their supporters, who are demanding action to save farmers and rural communities.

It is the latest attempt to convince the Coalition Government, in particular Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Water Minister David Littleproud to pause and fix the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Jerilderie’s Helene Mortlock, who will attend the rally representing Creek Country Communities, said politicians are not the only targets of the convoy.

She said this is a chance for rural Australia to educate other Australians of the dire situation facing farming families.

While the drought message is gaining traction across the country, convoy organisers say the mismanagement of water is just as devastating to food producers.

They say there is a need to discuss a range of solutions which have been developed to fix the disastrous Murray-Darling Basin Plan, which is destroying regional communities and threatening Australia’s food security.

‘‘We want to educate our urban cousins throughout Australia,’’ Mrs Mortlock said.

‘‘Right now we speak on behalf of 20 per cent of the population, but if the other 80 per cent knew what was going on, and why they might drinking Chinese milk sooner then they think, then we can make better decisions.

‘‘It’s important for us to send a joint message that we’re all in this together.

‘‘And the more people that join from all around the region, means that people hear about the different realities that people are facing.

‘‘I encourage everyone to come — car pool or get on a bus — and RSVP as soon as possible.’’

Southern Riverina Irrigators deputy chair Darcy Hare said all this region wants is a plan that works for our farmers, environment and communities.

“At the moment it is hurting all of these, and we have grave concerns for the future of Australia’s food security,’’ he said.

‘‘We get report after report, inquiry after inquiry, highlighting the flaws in the Basin Plan.

Yet all we get from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority is denial, and all we get from Water Minister David Littleproud are his ridiculous calls to implement the plan ‘in full and on time’, despite admitting it has flaws.

‘‘We have poured the equivalent of 1.6 Sydney Harbours out to sea in the past two years, which is an unnecessary and unsustainable waste.

‘‘We have 1.6 Sydney Harbour’s worth of water evaporating every year, much of which could be used for food production, and last year another Sydney Harbour was lost through poor water management when the Murray River was run beyond its capacity.

‘‘Australians do not understand what is happening, and the government wants to keep it that way so it doesn’t have to make unpopular decisions. But the time of denial must end; enough is enough.

‘‘We will be rallying in Canberra to highlight that Basin Plan must change. We have to make it clear to the public that when it comes to water management and our effective use of this precious resource we are the dumbest nation in the world.’’

To get yourself on a convoy bus from the local area, contact one of the following regional coordinators:

Don Young (Tocumwal) – donyoungrural@gmail.com or 0427 575 957.

Sue Braybon (Finley/Tocumwal) – sue.braybon@bigpond.com or 0409 314 174.

Helene Mortlock (Jerilderie) – helene@jumptreestudios.com or 0409 029 564.

Kathy McFarlane (Jerilderie) – kathleen.mcfarlane@bigpond.com or 0448 878 597.