Govt’s irrigation rebuff disappointing: McCormack

The Gillard Government showed its complete contempt for irrigation farmers today by providing just one of three speakers allowed for a motion celebrating the first century of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

The Nationals’ Member for Riverina Michael McCormack said it was unusual for one side not to fill all speaking spots available, particularly when the motion supported the Prime Minister’s pledge given last May to “strengthen irrigation”.

“The only speaker on the motion was Dick Lyons from Tasmania whose electorate is a long way from the Murray-Darling Basin,” Mr McCormack said.

“He spoke well but was not supported by anyone else from the Government which was a pity.”

Mr McCormack’s 10-minute speech focused on the development of the MIA and its communities; the enormous job local producers do to feed Australia and many other countries and the need for sensible water policy in coming years.

He was supported by Member for Farrer Sussan Ley and Member for Murray Dr Sharman Stone.

“What is even more surprising is that the Water Minister has indicated, through a spokesman, that he will not be supporting the motion as ithas been put,” Mr McCormack said.

“So here we have a Water and Environment Minister who just days ago rejected a bid to stop a trade union-backed mining project citing the impact it would have on people and jobs yet implements water policy which will hurt the economics of regional irrigation areas and then signals his intention not to support a motion principally congratulating a local irrigation area on its centenary.

“My motion calls on the Prime Minister to implement her commitment to strengthen irrigation which she made in her 3 May 2012 speech to the Global Foundation Summit in Melbourne.

“Why Labor wouldn’t support that is extraordinary.”

Cristy Houghton