Calls for Basin meet­ing in Deni

Southern Riverina news - - 2018 BERRIGAN SHOW RESULTS -

Calls are mount­ing for the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion to host a hear­ing on its Basin Plan re­port in De­niliquin.

The com­mis­sion has re­leased its sched­ule of hear­ings, with none to be held in south­ern NSW, de­spite this area be­ing one of the most se­verely im­pacted by the plan.

The Speak Up Cam­paign has joined with other or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing the Rive­rina and Mur­ray Joint Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Coun­cils, in ask­ing the com­mis­sion to add a De­niliquin hear­ing to its sched­ule.

It has sug­gested this could be held just be­fore or af­ter a Shep­par­ton hear­ing, which is listed for Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 17. No other hear­ings are pro­posed for that week.

Speak Up chair Shel­ley Scoullar said the com­mis­sion had iden­ti­fied var­i­ous is­sues with the Basin Plan which par­tic­u­larly im­pact on the NSW Mur­ray.

“Un­der these cir­cum­stances, it would seem rea­son­able for a hear­ing to be held in De­niliquin so our lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­dus- tries, busi­nesses and com­mu­nity mem­bers have an op­por­tu­nity to ex­press their views.

“It does not seem rea­son­able to have hear­ings in Syd­ney and Can­berra, yet not at the heart of the re­gion suf­fer­ing most un­der the plan,” Mrs Scoullar said.

She added Speak Up was heart­ened by the con­cerns the com­mis­sion has raised in its Basin Plan re­port, in­clud­ing its state­ment that im­ple­men­ta­tion time­lines are un­re­al­is­tic and in­sti­tu­tional and gov­er­nance ar­range­ments are de­fi­cient.

As­so­ciate Com­mis­sioner for Wa­ter John Mad­den stated when re­leas­ing the draft re­port: “The cur­rent in­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments for im­ple­ment­ing the Plan do not give the Com­mis­sion con­fi­dence that the sig­nif­i­cant risks ahead will be well man­aged. Basin Gov­ern­ments need to col­lec­tively take charge and de­liver on im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Plan for the ben­e­fit of the Basin as a whole, not just to their own patch. This needs to be ac­com­pa­nied by re­form of the Mur­ray- Dar­ling Basin Author­ity to cre­ate a sep­a­rate Basin Plan Reg­u­la­tor.”

Mrs Scoullar said it has be­come ob­vi­ous that South Aus­tralia, in par­tic­u­lar, is not pre­pared to work with other states on de­liv­er­ing a bal­anced Basin Plan, and the NSW Mur­ray is suf­fer­ing be­cause of this un­for­tu­nate at­ti­tude.

Speak Up has writ­ten to the com­mis­sion ask­ing for a hear­ing to be held in De­niliquin, so it can get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how the Plan is im­pact­ing on this com­mu­nity.

“We have pointed out that un­der the Basin Plan there have been $21 mil­lion a year in lost salaries across our re­gion.

“The MDBA’s own data shows de­creases in pop­u­la­tion of up to 45.6 per cent in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. This is un­ac­cept­able and a more adap­tive and flex­i­ble ap­proach is needed to the Basin Plan to ad­dress it.

“The present drought is also high­light­ing de­fi­cien­cies in the plan and the need for change to pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties. This pro­tec­tion was promised by suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments but is not be­ing de­liv­ered. That must change, and the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion is a good con­duit to de­vel­op­ing chang­ing at­ti­tudes,” Mrs Scoullar said.

She added Speak Up is hop­ing the com­mis­sion’s re­port has more ef­fect than the 2015 Se­nate In­quiry into the Basin Plan, which iden­ti­fied nu­mer­ous ar­eas that re­quired at­ten­tion and made 31 rec­om­men­da­tions to gov­ern­ment.

“Un­for­tu­nately, gov­ern­ments have since found it eas­ier to ig­nore the rec­om­men­da­tions than to take de­ci­sive ac­tion that pro­tects our com­mu­ni­ties. They’re more con­tent to have bro­ken prom­ises, as it would ap­pear this is an eas­ier po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion.

“We do not want the same thing to hap­pen with the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion re­port, so it is vi­tal the com­mis­sion gets to the ‘coal face’ of the prob­lem and con­tin­ues to pro­vide gov­ern­ments with a true in­di­ca­tion of the mess that is be­ing played out in our com­mu­ni­ties from the Basin Plan,” Mrs Scoullar said.

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