Sunraysia and Robinvale residents are urged to attend a Murray Darling Basin Plan public meeting at Mildura Settlers in 8th Street this Friday, 10 February at 2pm.
The Nationals Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie and Member for Mallee John Forrest said elements of the plan that could have adverse impacts on the state’s river communities must be brought to the attention of the Murray Darling Basin Authority.
“While this debate about future river management continues, Sunraysia and Swan Hill must be alert to any proposed changes, good or bad,” Mr Forrest said.
The public meeting will begin at 2pm and run until 5pm.
There is also an “open house” consultation session starting at 11am where people can discuss elements of the draft plan “one-on-one” with Basin Authority staff.
Mr Forrest said it was important that regional perspectives were put to the Murray Darling Basin Authority because elements of the plan would have varying degrees of social, economic and environmental impact.
Senator McKenzie, who will attend the Mildura meeting, said the water cuts proposed by the MDBA would significantly alter Victoria’s food and fibre producing industries and the communities built upon them.
“We simply must get this right for all who live and work in the basin,” Senator McKenzie said.
“If a pro-rata share of the proposed downstream reductions is taken, Victoria stands to lose the equivalent of the Torrumbarry Irrigation District in consumptive water.
“That’s going to cause significant flow-on effects in our Murray communities, be you a teacher, a hairdressing apprentice or the owner of a family farm.”
It is estimated that a typical water bill could rise by more than 20 percent before compliance costs are factored in.
“The draft plan leaves us with a number of economic, social and environmental unknowns. I implore Victorians to join me at the public meeting, ask the MDBA questions and have their say,” Senator McKenzie said.
Mr Forrest said earlier versions of the draft plan had focussed too much on returning water to the environment, an approach that created enormous uncertainty in river communities.
“People want proper consideration of economic, social and environmental factors,” Mr Forrest said.
“Any plan must deliver this triple-bottom line and not impose economic and social costs that are too high. Perhaps this debate has a way to go yet.”
Mr Forrest said Swan Hill residents will have a similar opportunity during a public meeting at the Grain Shed in King Street Swan Hill from 1pm to 4pm on Wednesday, 22 February.