Fix it, that's our goal
I would like the opportunity to publicly refute the claims made by member for Farrer and Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley, who has stated that Southern Riverina Irrigators and the Speak Up Campaign want to "abolish or pause the Basin Plan".
The hours of volunteer time that have gone into preparing submissions, options and solutions to fix the current Basin Plan is astronomical. We want governments to fix a failing plan; pure and simple.
In August 2018 Ms Ley attended a crisis rally at the Deniliquin RSL Club at which there was clear direction, especially from government, that the region needed to develop a united voice on water management and policy. From this meeting the Murray Regional Strategy Group was formed, with representation from farming, community, indigenous and local government.
While I cannot speak on behalf of MRSG, it is worth repeating the comment in our joint media release last month from its chair Alan Mathers: "We are reaching out to Ms Ley to work with the MRSG. Our region is in crisis through drought, lack of irrigation water and a Basin Plan that is failing our communities. It's a new decade and time for a fresh start; we must all work together, demonstrate strong leadership and commit to securing meaningful long-term solutions for sustainable communities within the Murray region of Farrer."
Yet the response we get from Ms Ley is to make false claims about our organisations and what we want to achieve.
Organisations associated with MRSG have produced documents (separately and collaboratively), after huge amounts of voluntary research and compilation, aimed at fixing the Basin Plan. If the Environment Minister had taken the time to meet with MRSG and Speak Up she would know that the 'pause' is in reference to further government spending until the over 35 reports and reviews of the Basin Plan are audited and an attempt made to action at least some of the recommendations.
Since April last year there have been four official letters left unanswered to the member for Farrer from Speak Up, plus one personal plea two weeks prior to the Convoy to Canberra asking for her to step in to avoid the rally - again unanswered. After the May election we were even able to organise a group of scientists with concerns about the environmental damage of the Basin Plan to meet with the Minister in Albury. Six months on, we still await a reply.
While Ms Ley may have conducted many meetings in her electorate as she states, they seem to be handpicked individuals, with the major representative groups being avoided. Last week Speak Up again wrote to Ms Ley asking her to meet with us. We await a reply.
Shelley Scoullar, chair Speak Up Campaign
Thank you to Albury-Wodonga's volunteer Light the Night host. Each year, amazing volunteers plan, prepare and host a Light the Night event for those in our community who have been touched by blood cancer.It's a night to remember loved ones lost, reflect on one's own blood cancer journey and to come together in hope for a future free of this disease. Our heartfelt thanks for shining a light on blood cancer Charmaine Aldridge. Our volunteer hosts truly are the most special people. From all of us at the Leukaemia Foundation, thank you.