Ley won’t push for plan pause

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Far­rer Sus­san Ley needs to make the time to bet­ter serve Mur­rayDar­ling Basin Plan stake­hold­ers in her elec­torate, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal farmer An­drew Burge.

It comes as Ms Ley has ad­mit­ted she will not sup­port lo­cal calls for the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan to be halted so neg­a­tive im­pacts can be prop­erly as­sessed.

‘‘I am not ask­ing for a pause on the plan,’’ she said on Thurs­day.

‘‘It is leg­is­lated and we can­not go back.’’

Mr Burge said her ac­tions, or some­times ‘‘lack of ac­tion’’, seems to in­di­cate she doesn’t really understand the im­pacts of the plan.

‘‘The basin plan needs to be looked at again,’’ Mr Burge said.

‘‘We can’t make bad leg­is­la­tion good by not do­ing any­thing about it.’’

Mr Burge’s frus­tra­tions were height­ened re­cently when Ms Ley is­sued a press release on the Com­mon­wealth On-Farm Fur­ther Ir­ri­ga­tion Ef­fi­ciency (COFFIE) pro­gram.

The pro­gram is funded by a pool of money de­signed specif­i­cally to ex­tract an ad­di­tional 450 gi­gal­itres of pro­duc­tive wa­ter from the sys­tem, on top of the 2750GL al­ready out­lined in the basin plan.

Mr Burge claims to have re­quested a face-to-face meet­ing with Ms Ley sev­eral times since the an­nounce­ment, and says he is yet to hear back.

‘‘Sus­san was here (on Fri­day night for the De­niliquin Busi­ness Cham­ber an­niver­sary din­ner) but she didn’t use the op­por­tu­nity to meet with stake­hold­ers.’’

Mr Burge said the mes­sage that the basin plan will detri­men­tally im­pact on agri­cul­ture and pro­duc­tion, and cre­ate third party im­pacts for those liv­ing in the basin, seems to be lost on Ms Ley and the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

‘‘Rice plant­ing this year is ex­pected to be equiv­a­lent to the amount of rice grown in drought years,’’ Mr Burge said.

‘‘The amount of wa­ter go­ing down the rivers shows us we are not in a real drought though, but a po­lit­i­cal, man-made drought.’’

Mr Burge said it was im­per­a­tive that Ms Ley vis­its the re­gion again ‘‘straight away’’.

Ms Ley says she is plan­ning a tour of the lo­cal area with Fed­eral Min­is­ter for Wa­ter Barn­aby Joyce but it won’t be un­til next year.

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