Our fu­ture is in MinCo’s hands

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - OUT & ABOUT -

De­ci­sions made in the next week could make or break some of Aus­tralia’s ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

De­spite the enor­mity of th­ese de­ci­sions, com­mu­ni­ties at risk are con­cerned Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ters will not be fully in­formed.

The may­ors of four lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas in the re­gion have joined forces to call for ab­so­lute trans­parency, es­pe­cially from Com­mon­wealth Water Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud.

Mr Lit­tleproud will sit around the ta­ble in Mel­bourne next Fri­day, De­cem­ber 14 with state water min­is­ters and Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Authority bu­reau­crats and rep­re­sen­ta­tives to dis­cuss ad­di­tional water re­cov­ery un­der the Basin Plan.

There is a leg­is­lated com­mit­ment that none of this water will be re­cov­ered if it could lead to ad­verse im­pacts on af­fected com­mu­ni­ties.

May­ors who want this prom­ise up­held are Cr Norm Brennan (Ed­ward River Coun­cil), Cr Chris Bilkey (Mur­ray River Coun­cil), Cr Matt Han­nan (Ber­ri­gan Shire Coun­cil) and Cr Ruth McRae (Mur­rumbidgee Shire Coun­cil).

They said they still have se­ri­ous con­cerns that de­spite un­equiv­o­cal ev­i­dence that re­cov­er­ing more water with­out fur­ther job losses and eco­nomic pain is sim­ply not pos­si­ble, Mr Lit­tleproud con­tin­ues to sup­port this water re­cov­ery.

They are also wor­ried about trans­parency around in­for­ma­tion that will be pro­vided to Water Min­is­ters, con­sid­er­ing it has been sadly lack­ing through­out the Basin Plan process.

‘‘Get­ting the de­ci­sions right at next week’s meet­ing of water min­is­ters is vi­tal to our com­mu­ni­ties. It’s make or break for many of us,” the may­ors said.

They are con­cerned that water min­is­ters will not be well armed with the views of basin com­mu­ni­ties, be­cause in the past in­for­ma­tion from so-called con­sul­ta­tion ses­sions has been ‘‘cherry-picked to suit the agenda’’.

‘‘We be­lieve a re­port on com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion from Sefton and As­so­ci­ates will be pre­sented to Min­is­ters this week. Our com­mu­ni­ties need to see a copy of this re­port to en­sure it ac­cu­rately en­cap­su­lates the mes­sages we de­liv­ered,’’ the four may­ors said.

‘‘We’ve been caught out too many times through the Basin Plan’s im­ple­men­ta­tion . . . we ex­press con­cerns about its im­pact but th­ese are ig­nored or sugar-coated.

‘‘That can­not be al­lowed to hap­pen on this oc­ca­sion be­cause there is too much at stake. We don’t think be­ing given the op­por­tu­nity to view a re­port that is so crit­i­cal to our fu­ture is too much to ask.

‘‘Our com­mu­ni­ties have to­tally lost con­fi­dence in the abil­ity of the MDBA, in­clud­ing its CEO Phillip Glyde and chair­man Neil An­drew to be open and trans­par­ent, or to ac­cu­rately re­flect what we say. Nor do we have faith in the Com­mon­wealth De­part­ment of Water which ap­pears to be pur­su­ing an agenda with no re­gard for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and our peo­ple.

‘‘At such an im­por­tant time it is there­fore im­per­a­tive that the Sefton re­port is re­leased be­fore the meet­ing of min­is­ters, so we can be con­fi­dent our loud and clear mes­sages of con­cern have been por­trayed.

‘‘Min­is­ter Lit­tleproud stated this con­sul­ta­tion process and re­port would strongly in­flu­ence de­ci­sions around the neu­tral­ity test, and how they de­ter­mine a ‘neg­a­tive im­pact’. This is our fu­ture, so surely we’re en­ti­tled to know what it is based on.’’

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