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Impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on regional Australia
House of Representatives committee
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
Impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on regional Australia

CHAIR (Mr Windsor) —Thank you for that introduction, Bruce, and welcoming the committee to your electorate of Maranoa. Bruce understands the various systems and the way in which the water works in this particular part of the world. Bruce is correct: he has had many discussions with many members of parliament on this particular issue and we thank him for that, and for his submission.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for taking the time to be here. I will call upon the first witnesses in a moment. Goondiwindi Regional Council has made a submission. The mayor cannot be here today, but that submission is part of the evidence and we thank the representatives of the council that are here.

The way in which this will work is that we will be taking evidence from a number of people that have made submissions and towards the end of that we will hear from members of the general public, if they would like to say a few words. That is not intended to be an open invitation to long addresses. We have been confining people to about four minutes. It is to establish a contact in case someone has an idea out there that can help to resolve some of the substantiative issues that are out there, particularly in terms of works, measures and some of the evaporative solutions that people are talking about in various parts of the system. That invitation is there. If people want to take advantage of saying a few words at the end, they can see the two fellows over on my right.

I have been in Goondiwindi before. I used to do a bit of contract harvesting here in my younger days and spent a bit of time in the Queensland pub and a few of the others on wet days. I have very fond memories of this particular part of the world. Some of the audience might remember a bloke called Toby Salisbury. Toby is not with us any more, but his wife is still in Goondiwindi and they were very good to me as a 20-year-old traipsing around with headers trying to get out of melon holes.

There are some formal parts of the process that many of you have been through before. The members of the committee have introduced themselves to you. This committee is having a serious look at this particular issue and we will have some serious input into what may eventually come before the parliament as some form of legislative document in the shape of a plan. I would like to thank the committee for the way in which they have turned up for the hearings. We have travelled a fair part of the Murray-Darling system, and it is not always easy to do that, but they have been excellent in the way in which they have attended.

I formally declare open this 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 guide 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 over 600 submissions, which are all available from our website. The committee will call witnesses to the table as per the program and, time allowing, as I mentioned earlier, will proceed to members of the public to make brief comments. May I remind those present who would like to do that to contact the secretariat over on my right.

Before introducing our first witness, I will refer members of the media who may be present—I know the ABC is here and I am sure they will not make any mistakes—that there is a need to fairly and accurately report the proceedings of the committee.

[1.11 pm]