Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed said she and fellow members of the GMID Water Leadership Forum were very disappointed with what they saw and heard at the MDBA drop in held in Moama yesterday.
She criticised the format of the event saying the drop-in session resulted in there being no opportunity to hear from MDBA leaders as to what their plans were, and deprived community members of the opportunity to ask questions and hear the concerns of fellow attendees.
“It is a divide-and-conquer process. We must be able to hear what our fellow members of the public think about what is happening across the Basin.”
Speaking on behalf of the GMID Water Leadership Forum, Ms Sheed says she was shocked at the dismissive approach taken by the Murray Darling Basin Authority towards the GMID socio economic report, released in October last year.
“I am outraged at the Basin Authority’s high-handed dismissal of our report,” Ms Sheed said.
“It has been undertaken by a reputable firm in RMCG, an organisation with a deep understanding of the water industry across the Southern Basin. This company has been further engaged by other in the Southern Basin to carry out similar socio-economic studies, given the absence of the Basin Authority in this space. Our local communities have had to fund studies such as this and it comes as no surprise that the findings so far are in accordance with our worst fears.
“Our study shows $550milllion has already been lost in production every year since 2012, and an estimated 2000 jobs will disappear by the time the Basin Plan is implemented to its capacity by 2020.
“If we suffer another drought season, part of the GMID will be shut down, driving farmers out of business.
“I am amazed the Basin Authority could so easily write off a report which highlights such damage to the GMID,” Ms Sheed said.
The MDBA is now planning its own review of the Southern Basin.
“The current terms of reference for the Basin Authority’s review appear to be very narrow, but they’ve only been outlined to GMID forum members, we have not seen them. We have been told that the review will not consider the impact of the loss of the 450GL. This is unacceptable.
“It was most concerning that various members of the GMID Water Leadership Forum who attended the Moama session heard conflicting and unclear advice as to what the MDBA was proposing in relation to its review,” she said.
“I understand 30 towns in the Southern Basin will be investigated, and to date, there has been no consultation with the GMID Water Leadership Forum or other stakeholders, so far as we know. It will be of critical importance that any review includes those regions most affected by the rollout of the plan to date.
“The Southern Basin is very different from the Northern Basin and it is regions more than towns that should be focused on. For instance the GMID is known to have suffered seriously and should be included as a region, as should the whole of the footprint of Murray Irrigation in southern New South Wales. Both these regions have strongly advocated for changes to the plan. It is time they were listened to,” Ms Sheed said.
Sueanne McCumstie 0428 743 880│firstname.lastname@example.org