Wa­ter sum­mit post­poned

The Tatura Guardian - - News - By Geoff Adams

A cru­cial Goul­burn Val­ley wa­ter sum­mit, sched­uled to be held in Tatura last week, was post­poned af­ter the can­cel­la­tion of a min­is­ter’s meet­ing.

Na­tional po­lit­i­cal events ap­peared to be be­hind the de­ci­sion to can­cel the meet­ing of Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin wa­ter min­is­ters, due to be held later this month.

With the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment in care­taker mode due to an elec­tion and Fed­eral Wa­ter Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce out of a job af­ter the High Court found he held dual cit­i­zen­ship, a spokesper­son for the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources said the meet­ing was de­ferred to a date yet to be fixed.

Min­is­ters were ex­pected to look at con­tro­ver­sial wa­ter sav­ings pro­pos­als sug­gested by Mur­rayDar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity.

State Mem­ber for Shep­par­ton Suzanna Sheed has been scathing in her crit­i­cism of the de­lay.

The Tatura meet­ing was set to lobby gov­ern­ments on the needs of ir­ri­ga­tion-de­pen­dent economies around the south­ern end of the basin be­fore any ma­jor chan- ges could be agreed upon by fed­eral and state wa­ter min­is­ters.

‘‘I’m very dis­ap­pointed that the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has taken this ap­proach to what is such a time-sen­si­tive is­sue,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘They have been dis­tracted from the run­ning of the coun­try by high court cit­i­zen­ship chal­lenges with for­mer Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Wa­ter Re­sources Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce con­test­ing a by-elec­tion.

‘‘The gov­ern­ment is clearly strug­gling to meet its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

‘‘The MDBA and the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment haven’t been lis­ten­ing, they’re still not lis­ten­ing, and now they’re not even go­ing to be in the same room to lis­ten to each other.’’

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Mur­ray Damian Drum seem­ingly con­firmed that the min­is­te­rial coun­cil meet­ing would be called off be­cause of the cur­rent dif­fi­cul­ties sur­round­ing Mr Joyce.

‘‘The meet­ing has been post­poned for the mid­dle of De­cem­ber af­ter the New Eng­land by-elec­tion and the rec­om­men­da­tion from the au­thor­ity is handed to the min­is­ter’s of­fice,’’ the Na­tion­als’ Mr Drum said.

Goul­burn Mur­ray Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict Wa­ter Lead­er­ship Fo­rum co-chair David McKen­zie said the can­celling of the min­is­te­rial coun­cil meet­ing and un­cer­tainty over the fu­ture of the basin was hurt­ing the com­mu­nity.

‘‘The econ­omy is more di­ver­si­fied than it has ever been be­fore, but there is no doubt that it is still en­tirely un­der­pinned by ir­ri­ga­tion,’’ Mr McKen­zie said.

‘‘Peo­ple that are in town that aren’t ac­tu­ally ir­ri­ga­tors them­selves should un­der­stand that this is a re­ally big deal.’’

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