NSW pre­mier hears ir­ri­ga­tors’ con­cerns

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

NSW Pre­mier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian said lo­cal knowl­edge and is­sues would be taken into ac­count on fu­ture de­ci­sions on wa­ter man­age­ment on a visit to the South­ern Rive­rina last week.

Ms Bere­jik­lian said calls for lo­cal de­ci­sion-mak­ing to be given higher pri­or­ity were taken on board.

She has vowed to con­sider lo­cal knowl­edge in her de­ci­sion-mak­ing, and said last week’s stake­holder meet­ing was only the start of con­sul­ta­tion.

‘‘I don’t be­lieve in one-off meet­ings,’’ Ms Bere­jik­lian said.

‘‘I feel the com­mu­ni­ties in Mur­ray are punch­ing above their weight when it comes to mak­ing sure we are aware of the is­sues.

‘‘At Coun­cil of Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment meet­ings (on the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan and other wa­ter man­age­ment is­sues) we make de­ci­sions that can po­ten­tially im­pact the fu­ture on th­ese com­mu­ni­ties and the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try, and we know we have to get it right.

‘‘The main is­sue raised (at the meet­ing) was to make sure ev­ery de­ci­sion point we make con­sid­ers the views in and around De­niliquin.

NSW Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional Wa­ter Min­is­ter Niall Blair was also at the meet­ing, along with The Nationals’ can­di­date for Mur­ray Austin Evans and for­mer Mem­ber for Mur­ray Adrian Pic­coli.

They met with ir­ri­ga­tor groups like South­ern Rive­rina Ir­ri­ga­tors, West Ber­riquin Ir­ri­ga­tors, Mur­ray Val­ley Pri­vate Divert­ers, Mur­ray Ir­ri­ga­tion Lim­ited, Mur­rumbidgee Ir­ri­ga­tion, Mur­ray Dar­ling As­so­ci­a­tion, Ed­ward River Coun­cil and Mur­ray River Coun­cil.

SRI chair­man Graeme Pyle said the meet­ing cov­ered ‘‘ev­ery is­sue’’ in the Mur­ray Val­ley re­gion.

‘‘The Pre­mier lis­tened. She was very sym­pa­thetic and told us we have a hard­work­ing wa­ter min­is­ter who has taken other peo­ple’s pain, and Min­is­ter Blair said he will con­duct re­view of the De­part­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries’ man­age­ment.’’

Mr Pyle said lo­cal ir­ri­ga­tors shared their ‘‘gen­eral con­tempt’’ for the Mur­rayDar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity’s in­abil­ity to of­fer hope and trust in the Mur­rayDar­ling Basin Plan process.

Speak Up cam­paign spokesper­son Shel­ley Scoullar was in­volved in a meet­ing with Ms Bere­jik­lian in De­niliquin

Ms Bere­jik­lian was made acutely aware that poor process within the basin plan im­ple­men­ta­tion had seen those best placed to pro­vide ex­per­tise in wa­ter man­age­ment be­ing ig­nored.

In her brief mes­sage to the Pre­mier, Mrs Scoullar said lo­cal peo­ple had ‘‘bent over back­wards‘‘ to en­gage with gov­ern­ments to en­sure pro­duc­tive wa­ter was de­liv­ered to farms, thus creat­ing wealth and em­ploy­ment for the re­gion and the state.

Fur­ther, the Mur­ray Val­ley wants to con­tinue mak­ing a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to the NSW Gov­ern­ment’s goal of in­creas­ing agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tiv­ity by 30 per cent. In 2014-15, gross value ir­ri­gated agri­cul­ture in NSW was $3.054 bil­lion, of which 23 per cent was con­trib­uted by the NSW Mur­ray.

Mrs Scoullar said the gov­ern­ment ‘‘can­not af­ford to see the Mur­ray Val­ley lose any more wa­ter’’.

She said the Pre­mier gave ev­ery­one a fair hear­ing and ef­fec­tively summed up their con­cerns.

‘‘Ms Bere­jik­lian promised to be hand­son in en­sur­ing gov­ern­ment de­part­ments lis­ten to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties,’’ she said.

‘‘Although we have heard this mes­sage be­fore and been dis­ap­pointed with the out­comes, we are hop­ing the Pre­mier is able to walk the talk.’’

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