It’s now up to Minister Burke: McCormack

Nationals’ Member for Riverina Michael McCormack has called on Federal Water Minister Tony Burke to put before parliament a Murray-Darling Basin Plan which will ensure the prosperity of regional areas.

“Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a recent speech said the nation needed to strengthen irrigation and ensure we would be a food bowl for Asia and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan needs to reflect that vision, Mr McCormack said.
Yesterday marked the final day when State Water Ministers were able to advise Mr Burke on any future views of the draft plan.
“From now on changes concerning the draft plan can come only from Minister Burke,” Mr McCormack said.
“I know he realises he has a responsibility and an obligation to farmers and regional communities and thereby the nation to opt for a plan which protects our ability to feed ourselves and for future food security.
“Minister Burke knows full well how much a balanced plan means for the Riverina and other irrigation areas and I hope he has them high in his considerations when finalising the Plan.
“We all want a healthy river system but none more so than the hard working food and fibre producers for whom the river is their life blood.”
Mr McCormack said Mr Burke needed to use his power wisely and heed the advice presented to him at the various water rallies across the states.
Mr McCormack said at both the Griffith rallies in 2010 and 2011, more than 10,000 people attended the public meetings to express their concerns about the impact both the Guide and the current Draft Basin Plan would have on their livelihoods. 
“The people of the Riverina are strong, resilient people and their ongoing commitment to getting a fair plan is something to be admired,” Mr McCormack said.
“They have an inherent interest in the health of the system. To them it is not a philosophical discussion; it is their life.” 
Mr McCormack has delivered 37 speeches about the need for a proper water outcome and referred to the issue in many other addresses to Parliament.
He is a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia which has conducted two public enquiries and produced a total of 25 recommendations.
Mr McCormack maintains money spent on works and measures, as called for by the Regional Australia Committee, would enable any final plan to achieve a triple-bottom line of addressing social, economic and environmental issues.
“It is important that any plan put in place ensures the survival of the communities it will affect,” Mr McCormack said.

Cristy Houghton