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Start of the Coalition's Murray-Darling tour: Darling Downs to the Lower Lakes and Murray mouth.



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Media Release The Hon Greg Hunt MP Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water Monday, 27 October 2008 Start of the Coalition’s Murray-Darling Tour: Darling Downs to the Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth A small creek in Toowoomba will mark the starting point for the Coalition’s Murray-Darling tour which gets underway this morning to highlight the need for urgent investment in water infrastructure and a once-in-a-century re-plumbing of rural Australia’s farms. The Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Water Resources and Conservation, Senator Fiona Nash, will join me for a six-day, 3000 km journey down the length of the Murray-Darling Basin. We will drive from the Darling Downs to the Lower Lakes. We will travel from the top to the bottom of the Basin, talking with farmers, environmentalists, community leaders and others about the need for water-saving infrastructure and community support. The tour will set out from one of the original sources of the Murray-Darling. East Creek connects to the Gowrie, which becomes part of the Condamine, which becomes the Balonne, which links to the Barwon, and then joins the Darling River. The local Member for Groom, Ian Macfarlane, will start us on our journey. Senator Nash and I want to talk with farmers, hear their stories and listen to their opinions as to how we can best manage the river system by investing directly in water infrastructure such as piping, covering of channels and lining of dams. Many families have lived and worked on the river for generations. That is why we need to listen to what these hard-working Australians have to say about the priorities for water saving infrastructure. One of the issues which I have already heard is the concern by farmers and residents of local communities that the Federal Government’s exclusive focus is on buying out rural Australia, rather than fixing up our farms and helping rural Australia recover. It seems that the Government’s whole strategy is to buy out productive farms. Instead the Government has to answer why it is sitting on $6 billion the Coalition set aside for water-saving infrastructure works in the Basin. Indeed, the problem of just focusing on buy-outs was brought home to me when I recently visited Toorale Station near Bourke. Amid the international financial crisis and drought, the last thing local residents need is to lose 100 jobs and $4 million from the town’s economy. That’s why Water Minister, Penny Wong should spend more time directly engaging with rural Australia on the water crisis. I urge her to visit these communities to hear their stories first-hand. Media contact: John Deller on 0400 496 596

Tour itinerary

Team Hunt

Monday 27 October

Toowoomba, Dalby, St George, Bollon

Tuesday 28 October

Bollon, Cunnamulla, Enngonia, Bourke, Macquarie Marshes, Warren

Wednesday 29 October

Warren, Trangie, Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes, Condobolin

Thursday 30 October

Condobolin, Lake Cargelligo, Griffith, Coleambally, Deniliquin, Barham

Friday 31 October

Barham, Kerang, Swan Hill, Robinvale, Euston, Buronga, Dareton, Wentworth, Mildura, Renmark

Saturday 1 November

Renmark, Waikerie, Murray Bridge, Murray Mouth

Team Nash

Monday 27 October

Toowoomba, Dalby, St George

Tuesday 28 October

St George, Mungindi, “Keytah”, Moree, Gunnedah

Wednesday 29 October

Gunnedah, Gilgandra, Dubbo, Narrandera, Hume Weir

Thursday 30 October

Hume Weir, Wangaratta, Eildon, Seymour, Shepparton, Echuca

Friday 31 October

Echuca, re-join Team Hunt at Kerang, Swan Hill, Robinvale, Euston, Buronga, Dareton, Wentworth, Mildura, Renmark

Saturday 1 November

Renmark, Waikerie, Murray Bridge, Murray Mouth