Break­fast with Bernie

Burke holds lo­cal basin plan meet­ings

Southern Riverina news - - News -

Fed­eral Water Min­is­ter Tony Burke said he took two main mes­sages away from his re­gional visit last Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day.

The water min­is­ter’s trip in­cluded a din­ner with stake­hold­ers, farm tours, break­fast with Fin­ley High School prin­ci­pal Bernie Roe­buck and a tour of the De­niliquin Rice Mill.

Mr Burke dis­cussed the draft Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Plan, food pro­duc­tion and farm­ing ef­fi­cien­cies with lo­cals.

His visit in­cluded a tour and dis­cus­sion with lo­cal farm­ers An­drew and Louise Burge about sys­tem con­straints in de­liv­er­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal water.

‘‘Peo­ple have wanted to make sure that with any water that’s re­served for the en­vi­ron­ment, that we work with com­mu­ni­ties,’’ Mr Burke said.

‘‘There’s a gen­uine con­cern of peo­ple want­ing to make sure that we un­der­stand what the ac­tual lo­cal con­straints (in de­liv­er­ing water) are.

‘‘There’s no point ac­quir­ing water un­less you can sen­si­bly use it.

‘‘If we don’t man­age our water prop­erly we can get some re­ally bad out­comes.’’

Mr Burke said lo­cals want en­vi­ron­men­tal water to be used with the ‘‘same level of re­spon­si­bil­ity and ef­fi­ciency’’ as ir­ri­ga­tion water.

He also praised the ben­e­fits of on-farm ef­fi­ciency works while tour­ing Colin and Marg Bull’s Conargo Rd prop­erty ‘Boelgi’.

The cou­ple, to­gether with son Lach­lan, have up­graded their ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems with gov­ern­ment on-farm ef­fi­ciency fund­ing.

When asked if he pre­ferred ef­fi­ciency works or water buy-backs to source water for the en­vi­ron­ment, Mr Burke said the basin plan would in­volve both.

‘‘We’ve got much more money set aside for ef­fi­ciency than we have set aside for di­rect buy-backs.’’

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