PM contacts SRI
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been made aware of the region’s need for water following discussions on Friday with Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Gabrielle Coupland.
‘‘I made him aware of the unique position we are in here, where we have invested in crops in the ground and we have two possible scenarios. With water, we finish crops for grain, bulk them out for hay or grow pastures, all of which can ease the pressure of the drought,’’ Mrs Coupland said.
‘‘Without water, we can watch those crops fail and we become part of the drought problem.
‘‘He heard us and he understands that the best thing he can do is identify a parcel of water for irrigators.
‘‘SRI understands the water held in the dams currently is the property of other jurisdictions, organisations or individuals. We do not in any way want to demand the property of others, that’s tantamount to demanding the hay out of someone else’s shed.
‘‘Our suggestion is for (the) Prime Minister to bring all levels of government and relevant water managers together so we can work together to get through what is predicted to be a very dry season.
‘‘We are asking all involved to consider how we can be part of the solution for the east coast. How we can work together to find a solution through any means, be it beg, borrow or buy.
‘‘And it will require leadership. We need all Basin states on board and willing to help because some of the water in the dams belongs to the states. The discussions need to be respectful and collaborative. There are ways it can work, but it won’t work if we don’t get that high-level co-operation.’’
Mrs Coupland said SRI had been working with environmental water holders, river operators, governments and Murray Irrigation for over a month to find a parcel of water for this region to access immediately, but added ‘‘there are no silver bullets in a season as challenging as this’’.
‘‘When the Prime Minister calls, you know the message is getting to the places where a difference can be made. We won’t stop. There are still crops, pastures and stock that can benefit from water in the next couple of weeks. Timeliness is critical and we will keep the pressure on to search for a solution.’’