Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, State Minister Jeanette Powell, and Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy joined 800 irrigators and community members in Shepparton today to listen to their concerns regarding the draft Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“We travelled to Shepparton to hear first hand from industry and community leaders, from food producers, from business people, Indigenous leaders and local Mayors,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The message was consistent right across the community: stop water buybacks. Buybacks are causing social and economic damage throughout Northern Victoria and leaving the remaining producers with heavy financial burdens.
“This was explained by locals to the Water Minister, Tony Burke, when he visited Shepparton today, but it remains to be seen whether any changes to the draft plan will be made as a result,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Irrigators were telling the Minister that water should be secured from efficiency gains and that water for the environment should be treated the same way as water for irrigation – through water license applications and not as a separate category.
“How can the Murray Darling Basin Authority say it has measured the economic and social impacts on Victoria when it doesn’t even know how much water it will take from it?
“We will not accept a Plan that threatens to devastate regional towns or shut down Australia’s food bowl. If that means changing the Water Act we will support that,” Senator McKenzie said.
“I support the irrigators and the Goulburn Valley community in their call for ongoing consultation. I strongly urge everyone to get out there again and make local concerns known. Last year it was people power that made all the difference… any drop off in that intensity will give the impression this latest Plan has local approval.
“This Plan has to be about you and our communities, but that can only happen if you make your voices heard.”