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Don’t play politics with irrigator’s future.

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Don’t play politics with irrigator’s future 20-July-2010 Source: John Forrest, MP -

The Nationals Federal Member for Mallee John Forrest is appalled that Federal Water Minister Penny Wong is likely to withhold a Murray Darling Authority report impacting on the future of irrigators until after the Federal Election.

Mr Forrest said Ms Wong had snubbed a Murray Regions Futures Conference in Mildura today blaming “a change in schedule”.

“The reality is she’s a no-show because she doesn’t want to reveal the content of the Murray Darling Basin Authority report recommending sustainable diversion limits devaluing the water entitlements of thousands of irrigators,” Mr Forrest said.

“She’s ducking the issue.

“Voters, especially our irrigators in the Murray Valley, urgently need to know what Labor is proposing to do with their water allocations in this region before the election.

“They need to know the content of the Basin Plan and the new sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) proposed.

“It is very disturbing that so many communities are being held to ransom due to political expedience.

“Minister Wong is treating my river communities with the utmost contempt.

“Get that report out there Penny Wong - stop avoiding the issue.”

Mr Forrest said Ms Wong’s absence from the Murray Regions Futures Conference and the withholding of the report into sustainable diversion limits until after the August 21 election smacked of Gillard Labor wanting to avoid controversy at all costs.

“Not releasing this report is not a Murray Darling Basin Authority decision, it is a political decision by Gillard Labor and Water Minister Penny Wong.

“How about a thought for our irrigators, the pawns in this awful mess, the people whose livelihoods are being threatened by reduced water security.

“A Gillard Labor preference deal with the Greens will probably see even more water taken from our irrigators and food production, most likely without compensation.

“Penny Wong and the Gillard Labor Government have a lot to answer for. Many of our irrigators are under the sword of Damocles through pressure from their banks and uncertainty about their futures. It is cowardly to drag this water uncertainty out in such circumstances.

“Water is a key value asset of irrigators. Their bankers will be getting nervous,” Mr Forrest said.