Pub­lic takes no­tice

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

De­cem­ber’s Mel­bourne wa­ter rally raised aware­ness of farm­ers’ view of the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan ac­cord­ing to the rally or­gan­iser Speak up Cam­paign.

‘‘The feed­back we got was that we were no­ticed by the pub­lic and by politi­cians,’’ cam­paign chair Shel­ley Scoullar said.

‘‘I think ev­ery­one we met be­came aware of the sense of depser­a­tion that we are feel­ing.

‘‘No, we didn’t stop Mel­bourne, but to do that would have re­quired a lot more peo­ple.’’

About 300 peo­ple par­tic­i­pated in the march down Collins St to Spring St on Fri­day morn­ing, De­cem­ber 14.

It was de­signed to co-in­cide with the meet­ing of Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment wa­ter min­is­ters, also in Mel­bourne the same morn­ing.

Mrs Scoullar got to meet with Vic­to­rian Wa­ter Min­is­ter Lisa Neville.

The march at­tracted print, ra­dio and tele­vi­sion cov­er­age, and Mrs Scoullar also dis­cov­ered some peo­ple who wit­nessed the rally were post­ing on so­cial me­dia.

‘‘Peo­ple came out of the shops and were ask­ing us: ‘what’s go­ing on, why are you protest­ing?’

‘‘I think we sent a very clear mes­sage: The basin plan is not work­ing now and never will be.’’

As for the out­come of the min­is­te­rial meet­ing, Mrs Scoullar be­lieves they have made some head­way in hav­ing the min­is­ters adopt a bet­ter neu­tral­ity test.

Projects in­volv­ing the ex­tra 450 Gl of ‘up-wa­ter’ for the en­vi­ron­ment will now be re­quired to have a pos­i­tive or neu­tral im­pact on the com­mu­nity.

While pos­i­tive about this out­come, Mrs Scoullar said there were still many flaws in the plan, and the Speak Up group would be mon­i­tor­ing progress to en­sure the neu­tral­ity test was cor­rectly ap­plied by the bu­reau­crats.

Mrs Scoullar said she had read that ALP Sen­a­tor Penny Wong had re­marked that farm­ers needed to be paid more to re­cover wa­ter, how­ever Mrs Scoullar said that in­di­cated a mis­un­der­stand­ing of the is­sue for ir­ri­ga­tors.

‘‘No amount of money would be suf­fi­cient com­pen­sa­tion for the re­duc­tion in pro­duc­tiv­ity. That can never be re­placed.

‘‘If farm­ers are paid a cer­tain amount of money, then that may be suf­fi­cient for them per­son­ally, but you can­not fac­tor in the im­pact on ru­ral economies.’’

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