News

Not too late to fix damage

By Southern Riverina News

The NSW Murray region has been let-down by the NSW Government and it needs to take immediate steps to rectify the damage that has been caused.

Southern Riverina Irrigators chairman Chris Brooks said this unfortunate but indisputable fact has become even more evident with latest revelations around the failing Basin Plan.

‘‘How did previous state governments agree to be part of a plan that was always going to have devastating consequences on people they were elected to represent?’’ he asked.

‘‘It is beyond comprehension that successive governments have failed to protect us. Reports that tell us the Basin Plan is based on false science are damn hard to swallow, even though it is something we have known for years.

‘‘You don’t have to be a Rhode’s scholar to know that the Lower Lakes were once estuarine, as Professor Peter Gell has proved beyond doubt in the CSIRO report that has just been released.

‘‘It’s the whole basis of the Basin Plan – keeping the lakes in their traditional fresh water state. But all along it was a furphy, to help provide massive quantities of water from upstream dams to South Australia.

‘‘What we want now is for our new state Water Minister, Melinda Pavey, to demand action. There’s no more time to continue the polite political games that have been played; that’s over.

‘‘We understand Ms Pavey is new to the position and it’s obvious she has been left a shocking legacy and an almighty mess to clean up. However, this needs to be done, and quickly.’’

Mr Brooks said the heartbreak, broken families, mental health issues and ruined livelihoods that are a consequence of the Basin Plan must not be ignored for another day.

Mr Brooks called on Ms Pavey, as a matter of urgency, to work with her state department and the federal government if necessary to provide an emergency allocation for NSW Murray irrigators.

‘‘For many, getting an allocation this month is make or break. If it doesn’t eventuate, they will walk off the land. Surely our politicians and bureaucrats owe us that much after the unnecessary damage that has been caused.

‘‘We were promised the world. We were promised support, balance, consultation and protection. We have been let down on all counts.

‘‘Our communities are suffering, the state is suffering and so is our nation through lost production. All we can do now is hope there is some compassion out there in the land of politics, because if there’s not the suffering is about to reach a whole new level.’’

Mr Brooks said he believes the level of the Basin Plan disaster is unprecedented in Australia and it will get worse unless people in authority have the courage to admit they’ve got it horribly wrong.

‘‘We’ve even reached the point where industries are asking for changes that would have been unimaginable a year ago. Cotton growers want to sell water back to the government, which now says ‘no’. The almond industry has called for a moratorium on development.

‘‘In the New South Wales Murray there is zero water for production, yet massive quantities have been wasted and we’ve been forced to instigate a class action.

‘‘Almost everything about the plan is wrong, despite the federal Water Minister telling us ‘it’s the best we’re going to get’. Let’s stop the rot and fix it, before more lives are destroyed.’’