Double trouble for Murray Darling Basin Authority over Lake Hume water releases

CONTENTIOUS: Lake Hume water releases will be the central point of discussion with the MDBA.

CONTENTIOUS: Lake Hume water releases will be the central point of discussion with the MDBA.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority will visit two sides of the Border in two days to face landowners angry over Lake Hume water releases.

Representatives will arrive in Wodonga on November 1 for a round-table discussion with Indi MP Cathy McGowan, Murray River Action Group and selected others.

They will then head to Corowa on November 2 for a public meeting, which could attract up to 200 landowners.

MRAG chairman Richard Sargood said people had serious questions for authority managers over why they chose to increase water releases so late.

“That probably killed the last two caravan parks in Corowa,” he said.

“They just panicked … blind Freddy could see this coming, but unfortunately blind Freddy doesn’t work for the MDBA.”

Mr Sargood said it was doubtful the authority would change its mind on how to handle water releases, despite public anger.

Ms McGowan said she was “not really in a position to have an opinion” on decisions around releasing water because it was linked to irrigation, which was more relevant in Farrer and Murray.

“That’s particularly an issue for the National Party to take up on behalf of those landowners because it’s the National Party and the Liberal Party who actually put into place those rules – they’re the ones that actually need to sort it out,” she said.

“We’re up for a much larger debate about how that water is stored and how the Murray Darling Basin Plan actually uses those environmental flows.”

The MP had called on Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to visit the flooded region, but he declined the invitation.

“His office and him have said he’s not going to do that, it’s not in his control, so his office has put me in touch with the Murray Darling Basin Authority,” Ms McGowan said.

“The land owners came and saw me and they said ‘we have massive issues around communicating - can we sort the communication out - because if we had advance notice, we could have made a range of different decisions’.”