Group seeks urgent basin fix

By Country News

Fifteen organisations across southern NSW and northern Victoria have made an impassioned plea to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take action to stop the devastation of their communities as a result of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Local government, indigenous, farming and community groups have combined in writing a letter in a bid to get Mr Morrison to visit the region, or set a meeting so their concerns can be explained, warning communities are ‘‘on their knees’’ and ready for a ‘‘French-style protest on our national capital’’.

‘‘We have attempted on a number of occasions through different mechanisms to draw your attention to the disaster which is unfolding in the hope you would take action, however our pleas have been ignored,’’ the letter reads.

‘‘The unrest brewing in our communities is real and can no longer be ignored. We are angry and tired of the mixed messages which our peak bodies deliver to government and the disregard for our communities in the halls of Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.

‘‘Family farms are about to collapse throughout our regions and with them will go generations of knowledge, understanding and experience in land and water management. With them will go the security our nation enjoys of our clean, green staple foods which are produced across our food bowl.

‘‘This is not happening because we are in drought, as some people want you to believe. It is happening because of poor government policy and appalling management of our water resources. But no-one will listen.

‘‘Your announcement of a new irrigation system in Gippsland came as a slap in the face to our communities who are watching our irrigation systems get torn apart while at the same time so much water is being forced through our rivers to the point where it runs over bank and is wasted. There is no environmental benefit and no productive benefit, yet our weak bureaucracy doesn’t care and nor, it seems, do our political representatives and leaders.

‘‘Despite our best attempts we are unable to get our local members to appreciate the gravity of this situation.’’

The group has called on Mr Morrison to meet a small delegation of representatives from across the region, calling for a meeting to be held in Albury, Deniliquin, Shepparton or Canberra.

The letter has also been sent to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Member for Farrer Sussan Ley, Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Federal Water Minister David Littleproud and NSW Member for Murray Austin Evans.

The Speak Up Campaign, Upper Goulburn Catchment Association, Mid Murrumbidgee Landholders, Griffith Business Chamber, Murray River Action Group, Murrumbidgee Valley Food and Fibre Association, Southern Riverina Irrigators, Deniboota Landholders Association, Murrumbidgee Shire Council, Edward River Council, Yarkuwa, Denimein Landholders Association, Murray Valley Private Diverters, Creek Country Alliance and West Berriquin Irrigators have all signed the letter.