Coalition Senators and the Federal Nationals Leader, Warren Truss, will soon tour part of the Murray-Darling Basin in southern New South Wales.
The Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water, Senator Barnaby Joyce; the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Murray-Darling Basin and Environment, Senator Simon Birmingham; the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Federal Nationals Leader, Warren Truss; and NSW Senator and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education, Fiona Nash, initiated the tour in the wake of proposed water cuts in the Basin.
They’ll meet with irrigators and a cross section of community stakeholders near Corowa, at Deniliquin, Jerilderie, Griffith, and Coleambally, from the 14th to 16th of December.
“We are going to do what the Labor party should have done in the first place and that is to speak with the people on the ground who know exactly how to improve water efficiency without decimating whole regions. People in the Basin have answers, they just need support to make it happen rather than this punitive and narrow approach adopted by the Guide,” said Senator Barnaby Joyce.
“The Coalition is completely open to discussing all facets of Murray-Darling Basin legislation and policy to make sure we deliver what we promised a triple-bottom line for the economy, the community and the environment. My previous visits to the Basin have revealed deep and well-considered concerns about the Water Act and I am looking forward to discussing these in more detail.”
Senator Birmingham said: “Labor is failing Basin communities through an inability to deliver water saving infrastructure that would return water to the environment without reducing productive capacity, as the Coalition envisaged.  The Coalition is determined to see that the reform process we started is not derailed by Labor, and certainly not achieved at the expense of regional communities and Australia’s capacity to continue helping to feed the world.”
“We must find the right balance between the environment and the livelihoods of the two million Australians who call the Basin home. Frankly, the Gillard Government has created an enormous mess, and it will take time to get this issue right for once and for all. I want to hear what the people who live and work in the Basin have to say,” Mr Truss added.
Senator Fiona Nash lives in the Basin, in southern New South Wales.
“It’s no exaggeration, the water cuts the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s proposing as part of the draft Basin Plan will devastate regional communities,” she said.
“Farming is the life blood for most of these communities. They’ve just experienced years of drought and the loss of services such as doctors, businesses and schools. They’re now staring down the barrel of a man-made drought through water cuts.
“This tour isn’t a talkfest. We will take the concerns and views of these communities back to Canberra where the Prime Minister, Minister Tony Burke, and the Greens have been largely in hiding.
“The Liberal-National Coalition will fight for the survival of Basin farmers and communities.”