This past Monday hundreds of irate rural people joined the ‘Convoy to Canberra’ to protest the lack of action by the State and Federal Governments regarding the catastrophe that the Murray Darling Basin Plan has imposed on regional communities.
Local independent Member for Shepparton District, Suzanna Sheed joined the convoy to provide support to the protest.
“It is a sign of how desperate these hard-working people are that they feel the need to take their grievances directly to Canberra,” Ms Sheed said.
Retired Yalca dairy farmer, Les Brown, now living in Shepparton and joined the convoy bus ride, expressed his disgust at the government for not taking notice of what is happening in the communities. “I have been a lifelong Country/National party voter but they are on notice if they don’t scrap the plan and bring in a sensible arrangement. They are more interested in keeping a frog alive than stud dairy cows. It is disgraceful.” he said.
Suzanna Sheed said, “Let me make this clear – so-called water reform has turned water into a tradable commodity with a market that would not be tolerated in any other industry sector. It is largely unregulated and there is little to no regard for the health and wellbeing of communities across the basin.”
Local transport company, Kreskas Bros sent six semi-trailers to join the convoy. Operations manager for Kreskas Bros, Adam Katsoutas, when asked why they joined the convoy said,”The rural industries around Shepparton rely on water and without it, there would be no town to speak of. Lots of industries rely on it as we rely on supporting those industries so it is important that we support finding a solution to the problem.”
In an announcement on Friday November 29, the Victorian Government’s Minister for Water, Lisa Neville confirmed an interim regulation for tagged water use will begin on 12 December this year – subject to final regulatory approval. The government has also instigated an interim operating regime that aims to limit the volume of traded water that can be delivered from the Goulburn to the Murray system to 50 gigalitres a month, significantly below the maximum deliveries of traded water between the systems over summer in recent years.
With hundreds of people taking the protest to Canberra in this convoy, the ball is now in the court of the Federal Government to listen to the voice of the people. As Les Brown said, “ The government is not listening and if they don’t, they are going to get scrapped.”