Water Ministers, Hear our Northern Victorian communities

Published on 19 December 2017

Victorian irrigation communities have a message for Basin Ministers ahead of the upcoming Ministerial Council meeting:

Listen to our stories of innovation and change and acknowledge our efforts and the impact - see how it is affecting us.

The Murray River Group of Councils has delivered a communiqué to Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville on behalf our northern Victorian communities for the Murray Darling Basin Ministers.

Cr Adrian Weston, Chair of the Murray River Group said: “Our communities just want a fair go when it comes to delivering the Basin Plan.

“Here in northern Victoria we have done a lot of the heavy lifting and we have delivered water to benefit the environment across the Basin.

“Our communities want healthy working rivers. We want balance; healthy wetlands, trees and wildlife and healthy people, living in the Basin together.”

The Murray River Group of Councils is asking Lisa Neville to communicate the efforts of northern Victorian communities to get environmental outcomes for the whole Basin.

Northern Victorian communities have worked hard to achieve this and have had to cope with significant change throughout the region.

Loddon Shire Mayor, Cr Cheryl McKinnon adds “Our irrigators have become more efficient, they have made investments in order to manage with less water, to make sure they are better able to face the dry times.

 “It needs to be recognised that whole communities are involved in these efforts, and communities are hurting” said Cr McKinnon.

The Murray River Group of Councils is asking Ministers to reject methods of socio economic analysis that don’t reflect the pain already felt by northern Victorian communities in delivering the Basin Plan.

Cr Weston said “Local Government is there helping communities to manage the changes. We are seeing the impact on the ground. This is what we hear, day in day out from our communities. We see it, we hear it and we live it with our communities.

“There is already deep mistrust in our region of those responsible for delivering the plan – don’t make it worse by disregarding the impacts and the efforts of our communities to adapt.

“If these efforts are not recognised, if they get swept under the carpet, then decisions will be made that send more people from the Basin to the capital cities, and - I’m talking about the impacts of recovering an extra 450 GL of water.

“The fact is that if more water goes from northern Victoria, then the people will go too.”

“We agreed to get water for the environment in a way that didn’t destroy our way of life, that allowed us to continue to grow local produce that Australian families can enjoy that is good quality and affordable.

“Most Victorians want to see healthy rivers and healthy, productive agricultural communities growing clean, local food. That is what our communities want to continue doing, but if we lose more water, that is at risk.”

Cr McKinnon said, “We are worried that if we lose more water from our districts, then when we get a long dry period, a lot of our communities just won’t recover.”

The Murray River Group of Councils asks Ministers to listen to our stories, give our communities a fair go and give the Basin's birds, fish and trees a chance to show us all what's already been achieved.

The Murray River Group of Councils comprises six councils in northern Victoria, Mildura and Swan Hill Rural City Councils and Loddon, Gannawarra, Campaspe and Moira Shires.