We have delivered the goods here By Damian Drum MHR

By Riverine Herald

I WAS born and raised in Congupna and I am a builder by trade.

In 1981 I was drafted by Geelong and played 63 games over the next 10 years. I have been the Federal Member for Murray for the past three years and I was in state politics for 14 years before that.

During the 2016 federal campaign, the biggest question put to all candidates was “if elected, how are you going to stop 450 gigalitres of ‘upwater’ leaving agriculture and being put back into the environmental flows?” On December 14, 2018, through Minister Littleproud and all of the basin states’ water ministers, we were able to have a socioeconomic neutrality test tied to the 450 gigalitres that effectively safeguards that water from leaving agriculture in the same way it was previously being targeted.

This is what every water expert was asking us to achieve during the 2016 campaign, and while it took us two and a half years, we were able to achieve it. I have spoken to ‘Pause the Plan’ representatives, and my advice to them is to be careful what you wish for.

Quite simply, if we pause it and we lose the election, there is no doubt the Labor party will make it worse for every water user.

I know many farmers suggest that it can’t get any worse, but when you have the Opposition Water Spokesperson Tony Burke telling parliament he is going to reintroduce indiscriminate buybacks and that he is going to recover 450 gigalitres without any consideration of socio and economic costs, people will realise that the threat of an even worse plan under Labor is very real.

When I asked the ‘Pause the Plan’ representatives “if we could pause the plan, what would you do first?” they suggested they would start with a review into the social and economic cost associated with the implementation of the plan.

We haven’t paused the plan, but in the few weeks since I met them we have already moved to form such a review, with further announcements expected.

We’ve already made some significant announcements in Echuca — the biggest being the Echuca-Moama bridge, but more recently the headspace facility.

We have hopes for a sporting infrastructure grant to be forthcoming as well and Kyabram has just received $1.7m for a clinical training hub in conjunction with Kyabram District Health Service, which will undoubtedly see more doctors and allied health professionals developed and retained in Kyabram.

We’ve worked with the Seymour community in the past few months and were pleased to deliver almost half a million dollars for a new Agricultural Pavilion at Kings Park.

We are continuing to work with the local RSL and Puckapunyal to deliver some significant memorial projects to build on the military trail that is continuing to develop through Puckapunyal, Seymour and Euroa.