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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) —I declare open the fourth 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 something like 600 submissions, all of which will be available on the website; there are a few that have recently come in that will appear on the website fairly soon. The committee will call witnesses to the table as per the program and, time allowing, will then proceed to allow members of the public to make a brief statement. I remind those present wishing to make a brief statement at the end of the witnesses appearing to please inform the secretariat over here so we have some idea of how many people there are, because we will be on restricted time. We have other places where we have to be this afternoon, and we have another hearing at Shepparton tonight.

Before introducing the witnesses, I will refer members of the media who may be present at this hearing to the need to fairly and accurately report the proceedings of the committee. Before welcoming our first witnesses—thank you for your very substantial report—I would just like the members of the committee to introduce themselves just so you know who we are and where we come from. I am the member for New England, which is in the north of New South Wales. It is at the top of the catchment, in a sense, in the northern part of New South Wales in relation to the Murray-Darling Basin. The New England electorate, I think, has all bar two of the major storages that have an impact on the Darling component of the Murray-Darling system. I thank those attending this morning. We might start on our right today, and the members will introduce themselves.

Mr McCORMACK —I am the federal member for Riverina, which has the Murrumbidgee River winding through it. It takes in the Coleambally and Murrumbidgee irrigation areas.

Mr SECKER —I am from South Australia, and I represent all of the Murray River—we tend to call it the Murray—in South Australia, and the Lower Lakes.

Dr STONE —I am the member for Murray, which is in northern Victoria, due north of here. As we speak, we have had the worst drought ever recorded and now have the worst flood ever recorded. We have the rivers of the Goulburn, the Loddon, the Avoca and the edge of Bullock Creek—all of the major Murray tributaries in Victoria—and, of course, the biggest irrigation area in Victoria, which comes off the Murray and the Goulburn Valley and Loddon Valley systems.

Mr GIBBONS —I am the member for Bendigo, probably the largest single regional community in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Mr TEHAN —I am the member for Wannon, which takes in most of south-west and central Victoria.

Mr MITCHELL —I am the member for McEwen, just a little bit south of here and to the east, through the Goulburn River and Eildon catchment areas.

Mr ZAPPIA —I am the member for Makin in South Australia. It is in the northern and north-eastern suburbs of the city of Adelaide.

CHAIR —Thank you. I publicly thank both Steve Gibbons and Sharman Stone, as representatives of this area, and Dan Tehan as well. They have been impacted by the floods. I thank them for their presence. Their localised information, I think, has been very valuable in trying to come to grips with some of the issues that are out there in the various systems.

[8.53 am]