Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGIONAL AUSTRALIA - 21/01/2011 - Impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on regional Australia
House of Representatives committee
Friday, 21 January 2011
Impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on regional Australia

CHAIR (Mr Windsor) —Welcome. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for attending. To those witnesses who have made submissions, we will be speaking to those, and we thank you for taking the time to be here. I have to do a couple of formal things because this is a parliamentary process that we are involved in. Once I do that I will introduce the members of the committee so you will have an idea where they come from and then we will move to our first witnesses.

I declare open the fifth public hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia as part of its inquiry into the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on regional Australia. This inquiry was referred by the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, the Hon. Simon Crean MP. The committee has received about 600 submissions, which are and will be—the late, remaining ones that are coming—available on the committee’s website. The committee will call witnesses to the table, as per the program.

Before introducing the witnesses, I will refer members of the media who are present of the need to fairly and accurately report the proceedings of the committee, and I am sure they will do that in this town.

Before introducing the first group of witnesses, I would like to introduce members of our committee. I am Tony Windsor, the federal member for New England, which is in northern New South Wales. The majority of the storages of the Darling component of the system are in some of the hill country in the electorate of New England. I am also a farmer. I was born in the catchment and I intend to die in it. I have a son, who is currently farming and, in terms of his agricultural produce, he has been inundated twice in the last two months. So I am fully aware of some of the recent issues here but also of the vagaries of agriculture and climate. I am very pleased to be in Shepparton tonight.

I thank your local member, Sharman Stone, for her assistance not only in the way in which the committee has operated and been put together but also in terms of her local knowledge of some of the Victorian water issues that we are not fully familiar with.

Mr ZAPPIA —I am the federal member for Makin, which covers the north and north eastern suburbs of the city of Adelaide.

Mr MITCHELL —I am the federal member for McEwen, and my electorate is just south of here, down around Seymour, across to Warburton and out through the Macedon Ranges.

Dr STONE —I am the federal member for the electorate of Murray, in which we are sitting at the moment. It contains most of the Goulburn-Murray irrigation area, which is the oldest public irrigation system in Australia—it started in 1886—and major tributaries to the Murray. At the moment, half of the electorate is under water as a result of our amazing Campaspe, Loddon, Avoca systems in flood.

Ms LEY —I am the federal member for Farrer, not too far north from here. As many of you will know, I represent most of the Murray River in New South Wales and the Darling River, south of Tilpa. We have experienced 12 inches of rain in the far west and a lot of livestock are swimming at the moment. I am quite worried about those communities.

Mr McCORMACK —I am the federal member for Riverina in New South Wales, taking in the Coleambally irrigation area and the Murrumbidgee irrigation area.

[5.07 pm]