Burke praised

MGCC: Plan’s water de­liv­ery a real is­sue

Southern Riverina news - - Rural Outlook -

The Mur­ray Group of Con­cerned Com­mu­ni­ties has con­grat­u­lated Fed­eral Water Min­is­ter, Tony Burke for hon­our­ing a com­mit­ment he made to re­turn to the re­gion and look at is­sues sur­round­ing water de­liv­ery first hand.

The min­is­ter ac­cepted a public in­vi­ta­tion by lo­cal land­holder An­drew Burge last De­cem­ber to visit his prop­erty, which borders the Barmah-millewa for­est.

Mr Burke vis­ited the Burge farm, sit­u­ated be­tween Tocumwal and De­niliquin, to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how the Barmah Choke im­pedes down­stream flows and the risks to both pri­vate prop­erty and the red gum for­est if en­vi­ron­men­tal water de­liv­ery is not care­fully man­aged.

The pro­posed Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Plan rec­om­mends 2750 gi­gal­itres of pro­duc­tive food-pro­duc­ing water be di­verted to en­vi­ron­men­tal needs.

‘‘The Min­is­ter made a com­mit­ment to come back and he has hon­oured that com­mit­ment,’’ MGCC chair­man Bruce Simp­son said.

‘‘He has shown that he did lis­ten at the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity meet­ing in De­niliquin (on De­cem­ber 16); he un­der­stood that we be­lieve con­straints are a real is­sue and he clearly made the decision that he needed to see it for him­self.

‘‘We thank the Burges for mak­ing the of­fer and host­ing the min­is­ter for the morn­ing and we hope that by putting him­self on the ground, the min­is­ter was able to ap­pre­ci­ate that the con­straints we have been talk­ing about are real.’’

Mr Simp­son ex­plained that the de­liv­ery con­straints of the sys­tem are the rea­son why en­vi­ron­men­tal works and mea­sures are so im­por­tant.

‘‘In­fra­struc­ture en­ables the ef­fec­tive de­liv­ery of water to en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sets in a man­aged en­vi­ron­ment be­tween the nat­u­ral drought and flood events that Australia is fa­mous for,’’ he said.

‘‘We just don’t see how the MDBA’S pro­posed tar­get flows are pos­si­ble with­out dam­ag­ing pri­vate prop­erty and public in­fra­struc­ture; and even then they will also re­quire un­reg­u­lated flows from trib­u­taries which can’t be man­aged.

‘‘We shouldn’t be try­ing to play God and we shouldn’t be try­ing to turn back time. We should be try­ing to get the best out­comes we can within the cur­rent con­straints of the sys­tem and con­tin­u­ally look­ing at what we can do bet­ter.’’

Min­is­ter Burke also trav­elled to Colin and Lach­lan Bull’s prop­erty near Conargo to view an On-farm Ir­ri­ga­tion Ef­fi­ciency Project, a Gov­ern­ment pro­gram that al­lows water to be re­cov­ered for the en­vi­ron­ment while main­tain­ing or im­prov­ing on­farm pro­duc­tiv­ity.

He then took the time to meet with a range of stake­hold­ers from rep­re­sen­ta­tive groups and visit the De­niliquin Rice Mill owned by Sun­rice.

‘‘We com­mend the Min­is­ter. He had a short amount of time but he en­deav­oured to make the most of it to try to un­der­stand the is­sues from our per­spec­tive and that is ap­pre­ci­ated,’’ Mr Simp­son said.

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