Ral­ly­ing up sup­port

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS - By James Ben­nett

Af­ter a long meet­ing with lo­cal wa­ter stake­hold­ers David Lit­tleproud was greeted by about 50 peo­ple wear­ing green tops, hold­ing plac­ards and call­ing for more wa­ter.

Or­gan­ised by wa­ter ad­vo­cacy group Speak Up, the rally saw the Fed­eral Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources speak oneon-one with the pas­sion­ate crowd.

Among them were Fin­ley busi­ness own­ers Jim and Viv Muir­head, Lau­rie Fyffe and Paul Bramley.

Signs held by those in green shirts read ‘Wa­ter 4 All’, ‘Food bowl or dust bowl?’, ‘Save our com­mu­ni­ties’ while oth­ers showed pic­tures of dry land, with the slo­gan ‘Is this our fu­ture?’

Mr Lit­tleproud spoke with most of the group for well over 30 min­utes in­clud­ing Mr Muir­head.

‘‘I’m glad I had the chance to speak di­rectly with him and get my point across,’’ Mr Muir­head said.

‘‘I said to him, ‘one day we’ll need more dams be­cause of the pop­u­la­tion growth.’ They said the pop­u­la­tion would reach 25 mil­lion by 2050 and we’re at that num­ber now so what will it be then.

‘‘Gov­ern­ments should build damns now so we don’t have this gen­er­a­tion suf­fer­ing.’’

Speak Up spokesper­son Shel­ley Scoullar said she was proud of the turn out.

‘‘It’s fan­tas­tic to come out of the meet­ing and see all these peo­ple here.

‘‘When we call them, they come and that’s what Speak Up is about... bring­ing peo­ple from across our com­mu­nity to­gether.

‘‘And across the whole re­gion, I’m so proud for them to get out here and be united and that’s what the com­mu­nity is about.

‘‘It isn’t a protest, it’s say­ing we mat­ter, our com­mu­ni­ties mat­ter. It’s not just about farm­ers... it’s about the flow on jobs for our com­mu­ni­ties be­cause our busi­nesses are the first ones hit. ‘‘It’s our fu­ture and that’s why they’re here. ‘‘I hope he gets a clear mes­sage we’re not go­ing to lie down and take more wa­ter re­cov­ery.

‘‘I was happy with what we all said into the Re­gional Strate­gic Group meet­ing... we’re all on the same page.

‘‘Our one mes­sage to the rest of the peo­ple is ‘we’re try­ing and fight­ing the lead­ers who have come to­gether to try and be united’; we’re go­ing to give it our best shot.’’’

Mrs Scoullar said she was happy Mr Lit­tleproud took the time to speak with the peo­ple hold­ing signs — many of them farm­ers.

‘‘Credit where credit is due, he could have walked away and just hopped in his car.

‘‘It was the best chance he had all day to speak di­rectly with the farm­ers but now we need to turn that into ac­tion and have bet­ter out­comes,’’ Mrs Scoullar said.

Fin­ley res­i­dents at­tended the Speak Up-or­gan­ised rally on Thurs­day (from left) Lau­rie Fyffe, Paul Bramley, Jim and Viv Muir­head.

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