Grower says plan approach must alter

December 20, 2017

A leading Goulburn Valley fruit grower has called for a complete change in the approach by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Peter Hall said the authority had failed to properly engage with stakeholders.

‘‘All reports agree that any further water taken will have a severe economic and social impact,’’ Mr Hall said.

‘‘This will be particularly impacting on dairy but will also impact horticulture.’’

He said the MDBA management had failed to engage with the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District Leadership forum and instead had conducted a whispering campaign against the report commissioned by the group.

‘‘Public policy in this area should fairly take account of the most affected stakeholders but in the case of the MDBA management they have carried on with a publicity campaign that looks like engagement but is in reality a business-as-usual no-problem-here approach whilst irrigators and farmers suffer.

‘‘There needs to be a pause in the program and current management needs to be replaced by competent people who fairly balance the concerns of those most affected.’’

Mr Hall said the resource management at this scale needed to give due respect to those whose lives and communities were dependent on the resource.

‘‘There needs to be a complete redesign of the process that fairly and equitably takes in the concerns of irrigators and the communities that rely on them for their survival.

‘‘If this was any other industry in a major city affecting this number of people and area that has been harmed, there would be a royal commission into why there has been such gross mismanagement.

‘‘Given the growing pile of issues, accusations and evidence of mismanagement it is only right a high level judicial inquiry is established to evaluate what has occurred,’’ Mr Hall said.

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