Sti­fling po­ten­tial

Southern Riverina news - - RURAL OUTLOOK -

There is enor­mous po­ten­tial for growth in the NSW Mur­ray re­gion, but it is be­ing sti­fled by poor gov­ern­ment pol­icy.

This strong mes­sage was de­liv­ered to NSW Deputy Premier John Bar­i­laro by Blighty dairy farmer Lach­lan Mar­shall, dur­ing Mr Bar­i­laro’s visit to De­niliquin last week.

Mr Mar­shall at­tended the Re­gional Stake­holder Group meet­ing with Mr Bar­i­laro and Mem­ber for Mur­ray Austin Evans, held last Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

‘‘Eco­nom­i­cally and en­vi­ron­men­tally we have huge po­ten­tial, but poor gov­ern­ment wa­ter pol­icy has let us down. It has led to re­duced busi­ness con­fi­dence and lost em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties,’’ Mr Mar­shall told the Deputy Premier.

He ex­plained that he was fourth gen­er­a­tion dairy farmer and the fam­ily had moved to this re­gion be­cause they be­lieved it had the wa­ter se­cu­rity that was needed to un­der­pin and build a suc­cess­ful fam­ily busi­ness.

But un­for­tu­nately the com­mu­nity was now at ‘‘tip­ping point’’, brought on by a string of pol­icy de­ci­sions, the lat­est be­ing the NSW Gov­ern­ment’s cau­tious ap­proach to wa­ter al­lo­ca­tions which has re­sulted in a zero al­lo­ca­tion for the re­gion so far this year.

Mr Mar­shall lamented that ‘‘our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives sim­ply don’t un­der­stand our sit­u­a­tion’’.

‘‘With sup­port from the New South Wales Gov­ern­ment and bet­ter pol­icy de­vel­op­ment the un­tapped po­ten­tial of this re­gion can be achieved. We can be pro­duc­tive, and this will be to ev­ery­one’s ben­e­fit,’’ he added.

Nu­mer­ous re­gional stake­hold­ers were rep­re­sented at the meet­ing, in­clud­ing key per­son­nel from: Ed­ward River Coun­cil, Mur­ray River Coun­cil, Ber­ri­gan Shire Coun­cil, Mur­rumbidgee Coun­cil, Mur­ray Ir­ri­ga­tion Lim­ited, West Cor­ru­gan, Moira Pri­vate Ir­ri­ga­tion, South­ern Rive­rina Ir­ri­ga­tors, Rice Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, Yarkuwa Indige­nous Knowl­edge Cen­tre, Mur­ray Val­ley Pri­vate Divert­ers, Speak Up and the dairy in­dus­try.

The re­gional lead­ers pre­sented a united mes­sage to the Deputy Premier, echo­ing Mr Mar­shall’s com­ments that the re­gion is ‘‘at or past tip­ping point’’ and can­not with­stand any fur­ther neg­a­tive im­pacts on its wa­ter re­source, ei­ther di­rectly or in­di­rectly.

Mr Bar­i­laro was pre­sented with a list of out­comes which he was asked to ad­dress, be­ing:

● Min­is­ter for In­dus­try - Wa­ter, Niall Blair, re­assess the con­ser­va­tive al­lo­ca­tion pol­icy which presently ex­ists for NSW Mur­ray.

● NSW re­visit stor­age shar­ing ar­range­ments of Mur­ray stor­ages.

● NSW Gov­ern­ment un­der­takes a fea­si­bil­ity study to in­ves­ti­gate cre­at­ing a wa­ter fund, us­ing $750 mil­lion of the $4.1 bil­lion Snowy Hy­dro sale, to un­der­pin NSW Mur­ray al­lo­ca­tions.

● The NSW Gov­ern­ment en­sure there is ad­e­quate re­sourc­ing and con­sul­ta­tion around Wa­ter Re­source Plans, Sus­tain­able Di­ver­sion Lim­its, con­straints man­age­ment, and the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan 450GL neu­tral­ity test.

● The NSW Gov­ern­ment ex­tend the time­frames around Wa­ter Re­source Plans.

Mr Mar­shall said the Re­gional Strat­egy Group wel­comed the op­por­tu­nity to meet with Mr Bar­i­laro and Mr Evans and looks for­ward to on­go­ing di­a­logue to help re­solve is­sues which have de­vel­oped over many years in the NSW Mur­ray and need ur­gent at­ten­tion.

■ Lach­lan Mar­shall.

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