When will promises for action come to fruition?
There is mounting community frustration at the political and bureaucratic mess that has been made of our water resources.
Last week it led to the announcement of serious job losses at the Deniliquin Rice Mill, as the impact of less water availability due to the Basin Plan hits home.
In the words of Edward River Mayor Norm Brennan: “The two heads of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Phillip Glyde and Neil Andrew, should be held accountable; they are operating the plan and they are not listening to the communities.”
Our community should also be holding two other people to account: Member for Farrer Sussan Ley and Member for Murray Austin Evans. After all, it is their Coalition Governments at state and federal level that have overseen the debacle which is playing out.
Ms Ley is unable to convince her Coalition colleague, Water Minister David Littleproud, that adjustments must be made to the Basin Plan to protect our communities. For starters, the recovery of an additional 450 gigalitres and his mantra to deliver the plan “in full and on time” need to be reviewed.
We should also not forget that Mr Littleproud, as a Nationals member, is supposedly on the same side as Mr Evans. If this is the protection and support we get from our party friends, we’d suggest it is time to look (and vote) elsewhere.
And then we have the highly paid Mr Glyde and Mr Andrew. Mr Glyde came to Deniliquin nearly two years ago and acknowledged the MDBA needed to work more closely with our community.
He made a commitment that his staff would be here regularly to work through the challenges being faced by Basin Plan implementation. That did not happen and was nothing but another in a long line of broken promises.
Meanwhile Mr Andrew, like Mr Glyde and his other MDBA colleagues, flatly refuses to acknowledge the plan has flaws which need to be fixed.
It appears he is happy for forests to be unnaturally flooded while food and fibre production comes to a halt and local workers worry about where the next mortgage payment is coming from.
Perhaps it is because South Australia is not adversely affected, with huge volumes pouring past our doors to his home state, much of it making its way through the open barrages and out to sea. All at the same time as the SA desalination plant sits idle: why pay to run it when we can have all that upstream dam water for virtually nothing?
Last week Mr Andrew told everyone that ‘‘flexibility and adaptability are the strength . . .’’ and spoke about ‘‘helping each other find a better way of doing things’’.
But he wasn’t talking about the MDBA. He was referring to the farming community.
And he was correct. Our farmers operate with ‘‘flexibility and adaptability” and are always looking at “a better way of doing things”. What a shame the MDBA is not prepared to walk its own talk.