Governor hears water concerns

By Country News

Blighty’s Hannah Campbell has explained issues of concern in the region to NSW Governor Margaret Beazley.

In one of her first engagements, the new governor, who was only sworn in on May 2, attended a function at the Atura Hotel in Albury, where she spoke with local women about their interests and their community.

Miss Campbell, the daughter of Blighty’s Neil Campbell, received the invitation through a connection with a good friend.

‘‘Meeting the Governor was a wonderful opportunity, and so was being part of an event attended by so many inspiring women. I am very grateful,’’ she said.

Miss Campbell, who now works in Gippsland for stock feed company Castlegate James, said she did not miss the chance to highlight issues impacting on the southern Riverina region.

‘‘I highlighted to the Governor the changes I have seen.

‘‘It has only really hit home in the last few months that telling people that Dad still doesn’t have any water allocation wasn’t enough and I had to start highlighting why he doesn’t have water.

‘‘In the past the Murray Valley and Riverina were held in high esteem, and were chosen as the regions to help drought-proof the nation and create jobs.

‘‘Everyone was so proud of the Snowy Hydro scheme and this amazing engineering feat.

‘‘Now, 70 years on, all our government seems to care about are environmental flows.

‘‘We know these are extremely important, but so is food and fibre production.

‘‘The MDBA (Murray-Darling Basin Authority) hasn’t reached a happy medium between allocations for the production and the environment.

‘‘Also, the environmental benefit of productive water has been lost.’’

Miss Campbell pointed out to the Governor that the irrigation systems in the area have become delivery channels to send water to South Australia, despite the environmental consequences in our region.

She also emphasised that farmers were experiencing a man-made drought (a term that neither the Governor nor her husband had heard before), and were experiencing below-average rainfall.

But it’s the water that was readily available in the dams which is causing dramatic financial losses and large numbers of farmers exiting the industry, according to Miss Campbell.

‘‘I think the Governor took away two main points,’’ she said.

‘‘Firstly, that water and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is our biggest concern, and secondly that telecommunications is also a huge issue in rural NSW.’’