Fury over poorly run MDB Plan meetings
SOUTHERN Murray Darling Basin communities are livid federal officials gave just days notice before launching crucial public consultations on the most contentious part of the basin plan.
The Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources this week began consultation on the Murray Darling Basin Plan’s socio-economic test, which will be used to determine what projects aimed at recovering an extra 450 gigalitres of water from farmers, can be done without harming basin communities.
Basin ministers, led by minister David Littleproud, agreed in June that new criteria should be developed ahead of the next ministerial meeting in December.
However, the Department – which has employed rural consultants Seftons to run the consultations – only released dates of the public consultations last Thursday, with meetings beginning in Victoria on Monday.
Goulburn Murray Irrigation District water leadership forum co-chair David McKenzie said the consultation was handled appallingly.
“The way it’s been rolled out just yells that they (the Department) are avoiding confrontation,” he said.
“It’s bordering on contempt for communities... This is such a significant moment in the final stage of the basin plan, that it’s so poorly handled speaks volumes.”
A department spokesman said it was a “meaningful consultation”, with 14 meetings in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and South Australia in the coming three weeks.
No RSVP would be denied and people could also make a submission online, he said.
The spokesman said the department sent out more than 400 invitations to businesses, individuals and organisations advising of the meetings, while Seftons would handle further promotion.