Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed has expressed concern about the impact the reduction in flows in the Darling River is having on Victoria, on the first day of her Northern Basin learning tour.
Ms Sheed, and her convoy of water stakeholders, started their learning tour of the Northern Basin today (Monday) to better understand water issues farmers and water users along the Lower Darling are facing.
The 15-person delegation, made up of Shepparton farmers, water stakeholders and councillors, travelled from Wentworth to Menindee meeting up with farmers and floodplain graziers.
Ms Sheed said she was impressed with the depth of knowledge the speakers shared with the delegation and was already seeing a clearer picture of the problems with water availability along the Darling River.
“One of the reoccurring issues for Victoria, which we garnered from our friends in New South Wales, is that the threshold where New South Wales has to relinquish control of its water in Menindee to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority is rarely reached,” Ms Sheed said.
“The Murray-Darling Basin Agreement provides that New South Wales controls the onflow of the Darling River, until Menindee Lakes reach 640GL. If it goes above that level, it would be in the hands of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and be shared equally between New South Wales and Victoria.The delegation met with recently-retired citrus farmer Alan Whyte on the Lower Darling, who along with five other irrigators with permanent plantings, agreed to remove their trees and vines in a compensation agreement with the Federal Government.
“I’m not concerned about the same thing happening in the Goulburn Valley as it is a different set of circumstances, however I am sure our former Goulburn Valley dairy farmers share Mr Whyte’s pain,” Ms Sheed said.
“We also met with Rachel Strachan who was one of the citrus farmers who gave up her permanent plantings and is now growing oats and sheep on the family property.
“Rachel showed great concern about the health of the river. She expressed considerable emotion when referring to the fish kill several years ago and the continuing health of the river.
Tomorrow the delegate will tour the Menindee Lakes with Menindee community leader Graeme McCrabb and then travel on to Tilpa to meet with more local farmers at that point of the river.
Elaine Cooney 0447 820 466│email@example.com