News

Desperate call for help to PM

By Riverine Herald

FIFTEEN organisations across southern NSW and northern Victoria have made an impassioned plea for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take action to stop the devastation of their communities.

Local government, indigenous, farming and community groups have combined in a desperate bid to get Mr Morrison to visit the region, or at least accept a delegation so their concerns can be explained.

The groups have said: “On behalf of communities on their knees across southern NSW and northern Victoria we write to you one last time in desperation that you meet with a small delegation of our grassroots leaders.

We have attempted on a number of occasions through different mechanisms to draw your attention to the disaster which is unfolding in the hope you would take action, however our pleas have been ignored.

“The unrest brewing in our communities is real and can no longer be ignored. We are angry and tired of the mixed messages which our peak bodies deliver to government and the disregard for our communities in the halls of Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.

“Family farms are about to collapse throughout our regions and with them will go generations of knowledge, understanding and experience in land and water management. With them will go the security our nation enjoys of our clean, green staple foods which are produced across our food bowl.

“This is not happening because we are in drought, as some people want you to believe. It is happening because of poor government policy and appalling management of our water resources. But no-one will listen.

“Your announcement of a new irrigation system in Gippsland came as a slap in the face to our communities who are watching our irrigation systems get torn apart while at the same time so much water is being forced through our rivers to the point where it runs over bank and is wasted. There is no environmental benefit and no productive benefit, yet our weak bureaucracy doesn’t care and nor, it seems, do our political representatives and leaders.

“Despite our best attempts we are unable to get our local members to appreciate the gravity of this situation.

“Prime Minister, we call on you to urgently meet with a small delegation of representatives from across our footprint, either in Albury, Deniliquin, Shepparton or Canberra. We require a response to this request by April 2, 2019. There is a significant push in parts of our community for a French-style protest on our national capital in a desperate bid to get our voices heard. Let us avoid this confrontation.

“Our preference is to meet with you and discuss solutions, which are there waiting for politicians with courage to adopt. Please talk to us and help us solve this drastic situation.”

The letter has also been sent to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Member for Farrer Sussan Ley, Member for Murray Damian Drum, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Federal Water Minister David Littleproud and NSW Member for Murray Austin Evans.

Signatories to the letter are: Speak Up Campaign, Upper Goulburn Catchment Association, Mid Murrumbidgee Landholders, Griffith Business Chamber, Murray River Action Group, Murrumbidgee Valley Food and Fibre Association, Southern Riverina Irrigators, Deniboota Landholders Association, Murrumbidgee Shire Council, Edward River Council, Yarkuwa, Denimein Landholders Association, Murray Valley Private Diverters, Creek Country Alliance, West Berriquin Irrigators Inc.