Class Action meetings

By Southern Riverina News

The merits of a Class Action against the Murray-Darling Basin Authority will be explained to district landholders and irrigators at a series of meetings this week.

The landholder association meetings have been called by Southern Riverina Irrigators, with the local meeting for Berriquin Irrigators Council to be held on Thursday June 13, from 7pm at Barooga Golf Club.

SRI chairman Chris Brooks said the meetings would give landholders the opportunity to hear and discuss the facts around the Class Action, which seeks compensation for alleged mismanagement of water resources.

‘‘We believe this mismanagement led to the Murray Irrigation region having a zero water allocation while Dartmouth Dam was 90 per cent full. It is vital that all landholders hear the merits of this case,’’ he said.

Mr Brooks added since his election as SRI chair six months ago, facts had been gathered from competent people who are not conflicted, and part of the process was identifying the best way to make the Federal Government and MDBA accountable for decisions they have made which have had a negative impact on this area.

‘‘There has been a consistent process by various groups and local volunteers who have tried to negotiate and discuss issues with river operators for more than 20 years. But it has been to no avail.

‘‘During the same period many people have also unsuccessfully lobbied local state and federal Members of Parliament, in our attempts to make realistic and positive changes which help us obtain better reliability and a fair water allocation.

‘‘In every commercial situation I have been involved in, if you can’t negotiate with your counter party, and you can’t lobby politicians to intervene, the last choice is to use the judicial system to resolve your grievances.’’

Mr Brooks said he is confident this region has a long-term future, but it relies on everyone standing together, showing unity and pursuing the claim as an entire entity.

‘‘There have been up to 16 independent inquiries into the operations and management of the MDBA, with conclusions showing a consistent theme around mismanagement, lack of accountability and failure to be transparent. Yet there is no facility to argue, mediate or settle disputes regarding our shrinking water supply.

‘‘Please attend a landholder meeting to hear the information, debate and collectively determine a preferred course of action that will benefit everyone in the district.’’

Other meetings will be held today in Wakool and Caldwell.