Ley won’t push for plan pause
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.