Tell Se­nate why it should can the plan

Southern Riverina news - - BARHAM BASIN PLAN MEETING - By So­phie Burge The Land

As a fol­low up to last Wed­nes­day’s public meet­ing in Barham, lo­cal stake­hold­ers are be­ing en­cour­aged to com­pile in­di­vid­ual sub­mis­sions on their views of the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan as part of the re­cently an­nounced Se­nate in­quiry into its im­ple­men­ta­tion.

An es­ti­mated crowd of more than 1000 peo­ple at­tended the meet­ing, where they aired their con­cerns to a Se­nate se­lect com­mit­tee of cross­benchers chaired by Sen­a­tor for NSW David Ley­on­hjelm.

Sen­a­tor Ley­on­hjelm said sub- mis­sions re­ceived must be ‘‘clear, con­cise and of­fer so­lu­tions’’ to the Basin Plan, which pro­poses to re­move 2750 gi­gal­itres of wa­ter from pro­duc­tive use for the en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘We don’t want rant­ing, we want a de­scrip­tion of prob­lems and so­lu­tions cen­tred around spe­cific is­sues of com­mu­nity con­cerns,’’ he said.

Sen­a­tor Ley­on­hjelm re­ferred to an ar­ti­cle he sub­mit­ted to the

news­pa­per in 2012, head­lined ‘How much wa­ter does the Mur­ray ac­tu­ally need?’

The ar­ti­cle de­bated the trans­fer of Mur­ray-Dar­ling wa­ter from hu­man ac­tiv­ity to the en- vi­ron­ment, which he says ‘‘over­looks a very im­por­tant point’’.

‘‘How can you prove the en­vi­ron­ment is re­ceiv­ing enough? I asked that in 2012 and I’m ask­ing that now,’’ he said.

‘‘I haven’t changed my view, it’s vi­tal we main­tain agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.’’

Sen­a­tor Ley­on­hjelm said the Se­nate se­lect com­mit­tee won’t be con­trolled by ei­ther po­lit­i­cal par­ties, which he says is a pos­i­tive as the in­quiry will fo­cus on the ‘‘real facts’’.

‘‘We have a bit in­vested here . . . I’ll be ask­ing the ben­e­fits of costs and the ben­e­fits of this plan. For this in­quiry, I’ll be fair dinkum,’’ he said.

De­niliquin mixed en­ter­prise farmer Louise Burge said the meet­ing was an ‘‘im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity ’’ for the cross­benchers to lis­ten to com­mu­nity con­cerns sur­round­ing the Basin Plan.

‘‘Not all the cross­benchers who at­tended the meet­ing will be on the fi­nal Se­nate se­lect com­mit­tee, but these cross­benchers play a piv­otal role in pass­ing leg­is­la­tion in the cur­rent Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment,’’ she said.

The make-up of mem­bers of the Se­nate se­lect com­mit­tee are still be­ing fi­nalised.

It is still to be an­nounced when and where sub­mis­sions are to be di­rected to.

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