OPIN­ION Get off your back­side, Can­berra

Shepparton News - Country News - - OPINION - By Ge­off Adams

The de­ci­sion by a fed­eral par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee look­ing into ir­ri­ga­tion ef­fi­ciency not to come to Shep­par­ton is a be­wil­der­ing one.

At first glance the topic, ‘Ef­fi­ciency of wa­ter use in Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture’, would seem to be tai­lor-made for north­ern Vic­to­ria.

We have the most in­ten­sive ir­ri­gated agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion in Aus­tralia, the largest ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter au­thor­ity, the big­gest dairy area in Aus­tralia, and we are home to a pri­vate com­pany (Ru­bi­con) which ex­ports in­no­va­tive ir­ri­ga­tion tech­nol­ogy all over the world.

And there is the small mat­ter of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment spend­ing about $1 bil­lion on mod­ernising ir­ri­ga­tion in the re­gion.

You might think a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee would like to check on how that is go­ing?

So it is with some con­ster­na­tion that we dis­cov­ered the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Com­mit­tee on Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources is not com­ing to con­duct pub­lic hear­ings in north­ern Vic­to­ria.

So which ir­ri­ga­tion ar­eas has the com­mit­tee vis­ited? Toowoomba, Narrabri, Grif­fith, Har­vey (Western Aus­tralia), Ade­laide, Mel­bourne and Can­berra.

There are not many ir­ri­ga­tors in Mel­bourne, as the VFF has pointed out to us.

The ex­cuse from the com­mit­tee is that there were only three sub­mis­sions from this re­gion (we counted four, not in­clud­ing those from north of the Mur­ray) and Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter had re­fused to host the com­mit­tee.

As for the ref­er­ence to the costs of mov­ing the com­mit­tee, we’d like to see the bill for the flights to WA, to visit a re­gion which has 700 ir­ri­ga­tors, com­pared to G-MW’s 12 000.

If we ac­cept that G-MW re­fused to co-op­er­ate for a visit, we know there would be other or­gan­i­sa­tions here that would gladly of­fer up a venue and ar­range for some vis­its to see wa­ter ef­fi­ciency projects.

We could be­lieve that it may have been some over­sight, but a num­ber of peo­ple have told us they con­tacted the com­mit­tee sec­re­tariat to in­vite it here.

The de­lib­er­ate de­ci­sion not to come to the re­gion must be a slight to Fed­eral Mem­ber for Mur­ray Damian Drum, who un­suc­cess­fully tried to coax them here, and surely would be a dis­ap­point­ment to Fed­eral Wa­ter Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce, who is busy try­ing to en­cour­age gov­ern­ment de­part­ments to move to the re­gions, while he can’t even get his fed­eral col­leagues to visit a re­gional city.

We are left with the con­clu­sion there must be some un­known po­lit­i­cal rea­son for the de­ci­sion or it was mon­u­men­tal stuff-up to not in­clude the most im­por­tant ir­ri­ga­tion re­gion in Aus­tralia on the com­mit­tee’s itin­er­ary. — Ge­off Adams is the ed­i­tor

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