Rally has reaped results

By Country News

It is with a sense of immense pride that I thank everyone who supported our recent Speak Up Campaign rally in Melbourne.

This was an amazing event that highlighted the concerns our communities have with implementation of water policy, in particular the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

It achieved our two aims: (a) Insist that water ministers, in their MinCo meeting, adopt strong criteria around their proposed socio-economic neutrality test; (b) take our message to Melbourne and attract media attention to the issues we face.

No doubt the rally was successful on both counts. In the first instance, we know we still have much work to do around the neutrality test and ensuring the promise of no further social and economic damage is upheld. In the second, we received more media coverage than we thought possible across all mediums.

This included extensive television reports on commercial and ABC stations, a chat with Neil Mitchell on his radio program, numerous other interviews on television and radio, plus extensive regional media coverage. I would like to thank all members of the media for making the effort to cover our rally and give it so much exposure.

Special thanks, of course, to everyone who participated in the rally. We had people travel from throughout the Murrumbidgee and Murray valleys in NSW, plus northern Victoria and the Goulburn Valley. For many it was a very early start-up before the rooster, as they say, to get to Melbourne in time for our march at 9.30am.

We were joined by some of our city-folk at Southern Cross Station and thank them for their participation, and we also appreciated the well wishes from our city cousins along the way, many of them with kind words and others who tooted their car horns in support.

This was a show of community strength — country and city together — because Speak Up is a community organisation. We will support a basin plan that protects communities and the environment.

The current basin plan is falling well short and is in fact destroying communities.

It is communities that are at the forefront of wearing pain from the basin plan’s impacts, with job losses and subsequent reduced populations having a snowball effect that ultimately leads to fewer teachers, health services, community services, police — the list goes on and on.

Farmers can receive compensation if they return water to the environment, but our communities and their businesses are left with the adverse impacts forever.

That is why we must stay united and keep fighting this flawed basin plan and its poor implementation.

We hope we will not need to continue rallying for our cause. We would prefer to work collaboratively with governments and their agencies on a plan that offers the true balance we were promised.

If we are to achieve this goal, the ball is firmly back in their court. We look forward to hearing from our government departments at federal and state level, as well as the MDBA, in the new year.

— Shelley Scoullar

Speak Up Campaign