THE Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has issued a formal request to the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) for a series of meetings across Northern Victoria to follow the public release of the draft Basin Plan.
The VFF’s request comes in response to concern that public meetings may only form part of the MDBA’s public consultation when and where the community asks for them.
Andrew Broad, VFF President, said he had written to the CEO of the MDBA, Dr Rhonda Dickson, with a request for public meetings to be held in all regional centres in Victoria’s north.
“All members of the community, regardless of their perspective of the Basin Plan, must be provided with the opportunity for a firsthand briefing from the MDBA upon the release of the draft Basin Plan.
“For regional areas and industries whose economy and community structure are reliant on water for irrigation, the ability to directly meet with the MDBA to ask questions and obtain information is non-negotiable.
“It is inappropriate for the MDBA to release a plan of this significance and then disappear, leaving communities to wade through the technical legislative instrument on their own. The MDBA needs to be out in the community in the early stages of the 20 week consultation period,” Mr Broad said.
The VFF last week met with Federal Water Minister, Tony Burke, to discuss the Basin Plan and the importance of investment into environmental infrastructure projects to provide dual benefits of environmental water savings and regional economic development.
“The Federal Government has purchased significant volumes of water from Victorian irrigators over the last three years. It is now time for serious decisions to be made about the benefits of environmental infrastructure to achieve some of the outcomes that are expected from the draft Basin Plan.
“These options must be first and foremost the method of any future water recovery from Victorian irrigation districts. The VFF will not stand for a continual decline in our regional communities by the long term progressive loss of water from irrigated agriculture,” Mr Broad concluded.