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Mildura Basin Plan rally apology and LOS for irrigators

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MEMBER FOR MALLEE JOHN FORREST was unable to get leave from Federal Parliament. He has written this message:

“I share your anxiety that the Murray Darling Basin Plan is badly flawed.

During the past fortnight in Parliament my appeals have been recorded that we must focus on „fixing the plumbing‟ or water infrastructure, to achieve the desired water savings and not further erode the fundamental rights of our irrigation communities.

Irrigation farmers have received little credit for their pain already endured over 20 years for river health and salinity mitigation.

They deserve credit for their good water management, not condemnation.

They should not be easy targets to secure cheap water for the environment in 2010.

Victorian irrigators gave up their right to sales water for assured high security water 99 years out of 100. They‟ve already made their sacrifice for the environment .

Governments should reflect on what caused the situation we‟re in today.

Unused irrigation water that once flowed on down the Murray to the sea has been diverted into activated sleeper licences and urban use including Adelaide, and now Melbourne.

The former Howard Government saw problems looming and pledged to improve water management in the Murray Darling Basin.

We allocated $5.8 billion to fix water infrastructure but the Rudd/Gillard Government chose to focus on water buybacks, often from streams contributing little to the Murray.

We all want the river to have more water and it is essential we fix government-owned water delivery infrastructure.

Governments and metropolitan communities must be as determined as our river communities in seeking better ways to address the social, economic and environmental impacts of a water management plan in the Basin.

Let the discussion be fair, practical and balanced

Irrigators are clever and innovative. They know how to grow things, understand nature, represent an integral part of the future of our regional communities and above all, they deserve a fair deal.

Our regional ambition must not be ambushed by a Murray Darling Basin Plan hastily put together.”