Irrigator group backs senators

September 16, 2017

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon has called for an investigation following allegations aired on ABC’s 7.30 Report last month. (AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Southern Riverina Irrigators has joined the calls from South Australia for an investigation into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, claiming good water policy has been ‘‘ignored’’ for the past decade.

South Australian senators Nick Xenophon and Sarah Hanson-Young have both called for an investigation following allegations aired on ABC’s 7.30 Report last month claiming irrigation water had been misappropriated.

Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Graeme Pyle said the group had been calling for similar action for more than two years.

‘‘At last we have something in common with South Australia, as people from various parts of the basin start to appreciate the ongoing refusal of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to listen to the concerns of locals, including farmers,’’ Mr Pyle said.

‘‘But trying to develop good water policy has been ignored over the past decade, and as a result we now have groups and individuals from throughout the basin starting to appreciate that this plan is far from balanced.’’

Mr Pyle said any royal commission into the basin plan must explore the whole plan and include the entire basin, not simply be limited to a single issue or area.

‘‘Governments have struggled to understand the importance of affordable and reliable productive water, including the flow-on effects to regional communities.

‘‘A productive agricultural sector creates jobs, from spraying, sowing, fencing and baling contractors, to truck drivers, bookkeepers (and) hairdressers.

‘‘We all acknowledge that a basin plan is needed, what we want is a consultative and collaborative approach that develops a balanced plan which supports the environment, as well as food and fibre production. So far, that hasn’t happened.’’

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