Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed will be joining a convoy heading for Canberra next week to bring the dire plight of irrigators and dairy farmers in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District to the attention of federal politicians.
“It is sign of how desperate these hard-working people are that they feel the need to take their grievances directly to Canberra,” Ms Sheed said.
“If you know anything about dairy farmers, you know taking two days out of their busy working week is no small undertaking. The least I can do is go as well and try to help lend my voice to theirs.”
While the drought commands headlines, it is the on-going mismanagement of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and poor water policy that has been exacerbating already tough conditions, according to Ms Sheed.
“There are numerous reports that now verify the significant socio-economic damage that has occurred and which continues to occur in our southern basin communities,” Ms Sheed said.
“It is a fact that in farming communities we don’t always see eye to eye on every issue but I believe it is essential that we should all stand together to demand that governments fix the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the damaging aspects of current water policy more generally.
“While there are issues for state governments to address such as carryover, transparency and inter-valley transfers there are others that require the attention of Canberra. It is extraordinary to consider that there has been no investigation into the recent scientific report of Prof Gell who maintains that the Lower Lakes were estuarine and that the science the plan was based is dodgy.
“Let me make this clear – so-called water reform has turned water into a tradable commodity with a market that would not be tolerated in any other industry sector. It is largely unregulated and there is little to no regard for the health and wellbeing of communities across the Basin.
“There is minimal oversight of this ‘water market’. There is no transparency. Corporate water speculators are getting rich while hundreds of family dairy farmers in my electorate go to the wall.
“Recent environmental watering of the Barmah Forest has been ad hoc. Perversely, the environment which the plan seeks to protect is being damaged as the Darling River runs dry and riverbanks at the Barmah Choke and lower Goulburn River are destroyed.
“If Littleproud and Morrison cannot see how damaging the Plan is – economically, socially and environmentally – then they are being wilfully blind, or they are captured by rich private interests.”
Myles Peterson 0467 035 840│firstname.lastname@example.org