Communities to fight for right to grow food

Riverina irrigation communities will not sit idly while the Government contemplates carrying out ill-conceived recommendations to strip away much of their productive water used to grow food.

Nationals’ Member for Riverina Michael McCormack has commended people of the Coleambally and Murrumbidgee Irrigation Areas for showing their preparedness to fight for their water rights.

“It is going to be a hard battle but it is one we can, must and will win,” Mr McCormack said.

“Common sense has to prevail.

“Everyone likes to eat. The Riverina grows some of the best and freshest food in Australia. Why would any government want to take away the ability of people to grow food, to sustain the nation?

“The draft basin plan is not based on any credible science and no environmental watering plan has been done which shows how, when, where and why this water will be used.”

Mr McCormack was joined in Griffith on Tuesday by Shadow Water Minister, Senator Barnaby Joyce, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, John Cobb, Deputy Leader of The Nationals, Senator Nigel Scullion and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education, Senator Fiona Nash, who attended a community forum to discuss the draft.

“The message from those present was loud and clear … they want a future and this draft does not offer that,” Mr McCormack said.

“At the same time as we were listening to local civic leaders, businesspeople and grassroots community members, the Government was cobbling together a package which can be seen as farcical at best and an insult at worst.

“Labor will finance consultants to travel to regional areas to tell people how they should live their lives with less water.

“Labor calls this the Murray-Darling Basin Regional Diversification Project.”

A frustrated farmer confronted Water Minister Tony Burke at Griffith and told him: 

“You come to a town where you’re going to destroy people’s lives, and you just sneak in here and sneak back out. Why don’t you go down the main street and meet the people of Griffith? Why don’t you tell the city people, the people that you’re conning, why don’t you tell them the truth of what you’re doing? If you’re fair dinkum about water savings, you’d be putting money into infrastructure upgrades, not just buying water and destroying towns all around the Murray- Darling Basin.”


Mr McCormack said he understood the level of concern not just farmers but entire communities had about the water situation.

He said The Nationals would continue to lobby for a just outcome in the water debate.
For the diary:

Thursday 8 December: Murrumbidgee Stakeholders’ Group local community meeting at The Yoogali Club from 7pm.

Thursday 15 December: Murray-Darling Basin Authority public meeting at The Yoogali Club from 10am.

Cristy Houghton