Widespread demonstrations will take place next week as basin communities, farmers and farming organisations protest the Albanese Government’s water bill.
Led by Deniliquin, Griffith and Leeton councils, along with the National Farmers Federation and NSW Farmers, the action is expected to see towns across multiple states host demonstrations on Tuesday, November 21.
“We are vehemently opposed to this bill, and rather than come and talk to us they hid in Canberra and held hearings,” NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin said.
READ MORE: Why removing 'constraints' is key to the MD Basin Plan
National Farmers Federation President David Jochinke said towns and communities would suffer the impact of a rewritten Basin Plan, and said it would reduce the value of food and fibre grown in Australia by $855 million per year.
“The Federal Government has been presented with options to achieve a healthier river without the pain and cost of buybacks, but these are being ignored in favour of an easy political win,” Mr Jochinke said.
“These changes will cost thousands of jobs in farming, transport and food processing, shut down farms, destroy jobs and increase the price of food.”
The action comes after The National Farmers’ Federation, NSW Farmers, AgForce Queensland and the NSW Irrigators’ Council joined forces last week to accuse Water Minister Tanya Plibersek of 'taking a sledgehammer' to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Mr Martin and Mr Jochinke visited a property at Bungowannah, near Albury, to witness the impact of excess water on bank erosion.
“We stood at the banks of the Murray River, looking at the gross degradation that the ‘tax payer water’ is causing, because they’re running these rivers full, as though they’re European rivers. To see the degradation, with the banks slumping because they’re continually wet, is just ridiculous,” Mr Martin said.
“And it’s allowing River Gums that are 100-300 years old to just fall in the river – that’s hundreds of trees falling into the river.”
📉💧 This week in our latest #RiverMurrayWeeklyReport – Storages remain at high levels for this time of year + inflows from the Goulburn River decreasing to base flows— MD Basin Authority (@MD_Basin_Auth) November 3, 2023
👀 https://t.co/jJONYtCzDm#RiverMurray #MurrayDarlingBasin #RiverFlows #Irrigation pic.twitter.com/FpXN0EMQGw
AgForce CEO, Mike Guerin said primary producers and local communities should have a greater say in the decision-making process.
“Accomplishing a Basin Plan that successfully balances environmental and socio-economic outcomes for irrigation-dependent Basin communities requires a strong local consultation process and for governments to respect and respond to those views,” he said.