Communities from across northern Victoria and southern NSW will come together next month at an important forum to talk about their future.
Southern Basin communities are frustrated that they are the collateral damage from an unbalanced Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the forum will highlight options which should be investigated for implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan aiming to protect both the environment and rural communities.
The water forum to be held in Moama on Friday, April 13 is an initiative of the Speak Up Campaign and the key message is “If we stand united our communities can thrive”.
A range of speakers and panels will discuss common issues which are affecting the prosperity of numerous towns and industries such as those in Corowa.
Speak Up spokesperson Loretta Warren said she had been buoyed by interest in the forum and the strong desire from communities across the Southern Basin to come together and discuss ways to make best use of water resources.
“But we have to unite to protect our food production, communities and environment,” Ms Warren said.
“This day is for the community, whether you are a business owner, industry representative, riparian landholder, irrigator, council representative or concerned citizen.
“We encourage everyone to attend and present a strong voice.”
Mrs Warren said Speak Up recognises people are fatigued from listening and talking about the Basin Plan, especially when concerns continue to fall on deaf ears.
The forum will be attended by people from throughout Victoria’s Goulburn Valley and North-East, the NSW Murray and Murrumbidgee Valleys and the Lower Darling region.
Invitations have been sent to a vast range of community and water policy organisations, including the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
Politicians including Victorian Nationals Leader Peter Walsh and Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum have confirmed their attendance, and Mrs Warren said she was confident other political representatives would also participate.
Invitations have also been sent to four Water Ministers.
Former senator John Madigan, a member of the 2015 Senate Inquiry into the Basin Plan, is not only participating but has also donated a hand-forged replica of a Ned Kelly helmet which is being raffled so funds can be raised to help pay for the day.
Mrs Warren said the forum will be facilitated by Tom Chesson and would comprise a number of keynote speakers, plus panel discussions covering community impacts, environment, constraints and politics.
Information will also be provided on the constraints, which limit the amount of water that can be sent down the river system without flooding private and public land.
Feature presenters will include Matthew Toulmin, from RMCG who has conducted socio-economic analysis of Basin Plan impacts in Victoria and NSW; wetlands historian Professor Peter Gells, and an international environmental flows expert.
A wide range of panellists will include South Australian fisherman Graham Keegan who talks about the days when mulloway bred profusely in the end-of-system waters, and SA investigative journalist Ken Jury who produced the documentary ‘Muddied Waters’.
RSVP for catering purposes is preferred via the Speak Up website www.speakup4water.com or on the Facebook page. Raffle tickets can also be purchased online.