A CRISIS rally has been organised by southern Riverina farmers at Deniliquin on Monday calling on the federal government for an immediate release of water from major storages including Lake Hume and Dartmouth to ensure the survival of parched winter crops.
The meeting at Deniliquin RSL Club aims to put pressure on MPs to convince water authorities to release water for crops which will also assist in providing fodder for drought-affected parts of NSW and Queensland.
The rally is being organised by the Speak Up Campaign with chairwoman Shelley Scoullar saying the worsening drought had exposed the need to re-assess the allocation of water resources.
“We shouldn’t be in this situation,” she said.
“We’ve got to do something about getting some balance otherwise this is going to be a regular occurrence.
“We feel as though we’ve been put at the bottom of the pecking order due to all the changes in the water sharing rules.”
She praised the efforts of Farrer MP Sussan Ley, who has elevated the issue within her government in recent weeks.
The issue of freeing up environmental water to farmers reportedly led to Ms Ley backing Peter Dutton to takeover as Prime Minister from Malcolm Turnbull.
“Leadership is when you see something wrong and you vote with your feet to get it right,” Ms Scoullar said.
“It’s what we need her doing, totally backing our region.
“Mr Turnbull is the architect of what happened with the basin plan and he needs to be man enough to admit he made a mistake.”
Some farmers are facing zero allocations of general security water as 500-plus gigalitres of environmental water sits at places like Dartmouth and Lake Hume.
“This environmental water is just sitting there,” Ms Ley told 2GB.
“It’s not looking after the environment when it’s sitting in the dam and it’s not needed, in some cases, for up to three years.
“So why on earth can’t we get it to finish our winter crops which are dying as you and I speak and could provide fodder for the drought?”
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