Independent member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed has welcomed the announcement by the Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville that all future applications for water extraction or increases in water extractions will be referred to her for the next 12 months.
On May 1, Ms Sheed called upon the Minister for Water from the floor of Parliament to visit the Shepparton District electorate as a matter of urgency and to see for herself the damage occurring to the Goulburn River as a result of increasingly high inter valley transfers and environmental flows.
“I was pleased that the Minister responded promptly to this invitation and took a boat trip hosted by the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority representatives who pointed out to her the damage that high flows have been causing to our iconic Goulburn River,” Ms Sheed said.
“We have known for some time that significant damage has occurred at the Barmah Choke on the Murray River resulting in restricted channel capacity because of subsiding river banks and silting. Unseasonably high flows to deliver water to the Lower Murray region over the last summer coupled with a decision of the MDBA to release environmental water on top of that resulted in further damage occurring and flooding of the Barmah–Millewa Forest at the wrong time of year. Rather than benefit our environmental assets we are seeing them harmed.”
Individuals living along the rivers, organisations and irrigators have been calling on the State Government for some time to address the damage to the Goulburn and Murray Rivers.
In addition, the almond and citrus industries located in the Lower Murray have called for a moratorium on further development fearful that water delivery at such high flows is unsustainable.
“While there remain very concerning issues in relation to the integrity of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and an unwillingness on the part of the Federal Government to act on many previous reports – and in particular the Productivity Commission’s Final Report – there are at least steps being taken at a State Government level to deal with issues that our communities have been talking about for some time,” Ms Sheed said.
“The action of the State Government in creating this level of control over the new development in the Lower Murray is welcomed but there are many other issues that remain outstanding.
“Community members are raising with me the importance of transparency in relation to the water trading system, the ongoing negative socio-economic impacts on our region caused by water policy and the need to look at water trading rules and carryover, particularly as they pertain to investors and speculators.
“It is important that the Water Minister continue to review policies across all these issues. There can be little doubt that transparency in relation to water trading is essential.”
Myles Peterson 0467 035 840│email@example.com