Rallying over MDBP

By John Lewis

State Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed will join a group of rural water advocates at a rally in Melbourne today to highlight the negative social and economic impacts of the Murray Darling Basin Plan on regional communities.

The group, which will include farmers from across the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District and the southern NSW Murray Irrigation District, has been organised by water advocacy group Speak Up, led by Deniliquin farmer Shelley Scoullar.

The group is due to meet at Southern Cross Station this morning and make its way along Collins St to the Park Hyatt Hotel in East Melbourne, where a meeting of state and federal water ministers is on.

Ms Sheed said the rally was an important opportunity for rural communities to publicly voice their concerns about the devastating impact of further water recovery.

‘‘We have a federal water minister who seems determined to ensure that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is rolled out in full and on time, including the recovery of 450Gl of additional upwater, regardless of the cost to local communities, some of which have already been inordinately negatively impacted,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘It is also incredibly disappointing that the minister will not release the Sefton report which summarises the outcomes of recent community consultations on the proposed socio-economic test criteria prior to Fridays meeting.

‘‘This is an entirely unacceptable situation which shows a blatant disregard for Southern Basin communities who have been working so hard for so long to have their voices heard.’’

She said decisions taken today will be crucial to the future of the basin plan.

‘‘We must ensure the concerns of our communities are being appropriately represented,’’ she said.