Breakfast with Bernie
Burke holds local basin plan meetings
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.’’