Water Minister Tony Burke must front up and attend some of the Community Information Sessions being conducted by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority into its Guide to the proposed Basin Plan.
More than 600 concerned and passionate locals attended the first of these sessions in Shepparton today, expressing their frustrations at the proposals within the Guide, the Guide’s paucity of data and the total absence of any Government response to the Guide.
People whose livelihoods depend on water are, quite legitimately, concerned about the impact that cuts to water entitlements proposed by the Guide will have on their future and, even more so, the future of their communities.
While openly recognising the need for improved environmental management of the Murray-Darling system, they expressed frustration that socio-economic analysis undertaken to date is inadequate and plainly understates the impact of such cuts.
Attendees also vented their frustrations at the process of water buybacks to date and the absence of any clear Government response to the Guide outlining how the impact of these cuts could be minimised through the pursuit of effective infrastructure efficiency projects and a fairer, more strategic approach to buybacks.
The people in Basin communities seem to be one step ahead of the Government, eager to discuss not just the scope of the proposed cuts but also the total lack of clear Government policies to minimise their impact.
Australians concerned about Government policy failures shouldn’t be left to take their frustrations out on public servants, they should be able to front their politicians. Coalition state and federal MPs were at today’s meeting in force today, while not a Labor MP was to be seen.
Coalition MPs will be attending other sessions where possible – Tony Burke needs to commit to turning up and talking to Australia’s food producers too.