ON THE LAND Basin com­mu­ni­ties to stand to­gether

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE -

Com­mu­ni­ties from across north­ern Vic­to­ria and south­ern NSW will come to­gether next month at an im­por­tant fo­rum to talk about their fu­ture.

South­ern Basin com­mu­ni­ties are frus­trated that they are the col­lat­eral dam­age from an un­bal­anced Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan and the fo­rum will high­light op­tions which should be in­ves­ti­gated for im­ple­ment­ing the Mur­rayDar­ling Basin Plan aim­ing to pro­tect both the en­vi­ron­ment and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

The wa­ter fo­rum to be held in Moama on Fri­day, April 13 is an ini­tia­tive of the Speak Up Cam­paign and the key mes­sage is “If we stand united our com­mu­ni­ties can thrive”.

A range of speak­ers and pan­els will dis­cuss com­mon is­sues which are af­fect­ing the pros­per­ity of nu­mer­ous towns and in­dus­tries such as those in Corowa.

Speak Up spokesper­son Loretta War­ren said she had been buoyed by in­ter­est in the fo­rum and the strong de­sire from com­mu­ni­ties across the South­ern Basin to come to­gether and dis­cuss ways to make best use of wa­ter re­sources.

“But we have to unite to pro­tect our food pro­duc­tion, com­mu­ni­ties and en­vi­ron­ment,” Ms War­ren said.

“This day is for the com­mu­nity, whether you are a busi­ness owner, in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tive, ri­par­ian land­holder, ir­ri­ga­tor, coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tive or con­cerned cit­i­zen.

“We en­cour­age ev­ery­one to at­tend and present a strong voice.”

Mrs War­ren said Speak Up recog­nises peo­ple are fa­tigued from lis­ten­ing and talk­ing about the Basin Plan, es­pe­cially when con­cerns con­tinue to fall on deaf ears.

The fo­rum will be at­tended by peo­ple from through­out Vic­to­ria’s Goul­burn Val­ley and North-East, the NSW Mur­ray and Mur­rumbidgee Val­leys and the Lower Dar­ling re­gion.

In­vi­ta­tions have been sent to a vast range of com­mu­nity and wa­ter pol­icy or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Author­ity.

Politi­cians in­clud­ing Vic­to­rian Na­tion­als Leader Peter Walsh and Fed­eral Mem­ber for Mur­ray Damian Drum have con­firmed their at­ten­dance, and Mrs War­ren said she was con­fi­dent other po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives would also par­tic­i­pate.

In­vi­ta­tions have also been sent to four Wa­ter Min­is­ters.

For­mer se­na­tor John Madi­gan, a mem­ber of the 2015 Se­nate In­quiry into the Basin Plan, is not only par­tic­i­pat­ing but has also do­nated a hand-forged replica of a Ned Kelly hel­met which is be­ing raf­fled so funds can be raised to help pay for the day.

Mrs War­ren said the fo­rum will be fa­cil­i­tated by Tom Ches­son and would com­prise a num­ber of key­note speak­ers, plus panel dis- cus­sions cov­er­ing com­mu­nity im­pacts, en­vi­ron­ment, con­straints and pol­i­tics.

In­for­ma­tion will also be pro­vided on the con­straints, which limit the amount of wa­ter that can be sent down the river sys­tem with­out flood­ing pri­vate and pub­lic land.

Fea­ture pre­sen­ters will in­clude Matthew Toul­min, from RMCG who has con­ducted so­cio-eco­nomic anal­y­sis of Basin Plan im­pacts in Vic­to­ria and NSW; wet­lands his­to­rian Pro­fes­sor Peter Gells, and an in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal flows ex­pert.

A wide range of pan­el­lists will in­clude South Aus­tralian fish­er­man Gra­ham Kee­gan who talks about the days when mul­loway bred pro­fusely in the end-of-sys­tem wa­ters, and SA in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist Ken Jury who pro­duced the doc­u­men­tary ‘Mud­died Wa­ters’.

RSVP for cater­ing pur­poses is pre­ferred via the Speak Up web­site www.speakup4wa­ter. com or on the Face­book page. Raf­fle tickets can also be pur­chased on­line.

Loretta War­ren is a dairy farmer from Kyabram in Vic­to­ria and is a Vic­to­rian Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Speak Up Cam­paign.

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