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Farmer pleads to rethink plan

by
June 23, 2017

A farmer from Deniliquin has broken down as she said people like her were political pawns in the ongoing Murray-Darling Basin Plan debate.

A farmer from Deniliquin has broken down as she said people like her were political pawns in the ongoing Murray-Darling Basin Plan debate.

Louise Burge implored politicians to end the ‘‘argy-bargy’’ and work with local communities to end the ‘‘nightmare’’ that will continue to 2024.

Her family farm of four generations has been impacted twice by poor government decisions.

In 2010, after a 10-year drought, environmental flows were delivered at the wrong time, splitting their property in two.

‘‘We lost over $300000, $400000 in our crops,’’ Ms Burge said in Canberra last Wednesday.

Last year, the property’s house was surrounded by floodwater.

‘‘What I’m pleading with politicians is to put aside their political differences, recognise there are many, many people impacted by these decisions,’’ she said.

‘‘It highlights the standard of politics in Australia, where they can keep playing political games.’’

The story of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan isn’t just one of irrigators; it also affects those who live alongside rivers, the tourism industry and other associated businesses, she said.

Ms Burge recalled the time she had former environment minister Tony Burke at her kitchen table and explained their predicament, only to have him buy more water.

‘‘He’s now saying we need another 450Gl,’’ she said.

‘‘We’ve spoken to the Coalition and they seem to have the incapacity to see the need to change. Our communities are desperate.’’

Ms Burge was speaking at the launch of stage one of a report into the impact of the basin plan on the NSW Murray Valley.

It found rice production has reduced by nearly 30 per cent, with dairy falling by about 21 per cent.

‘‘Those regions that are predominantly horticulture such as SA, Sunraysia and Griffith have emerged largely untouched by the plan to date,’’ the report said.

The agreement reached at the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council meeting in Canberra on Friday signed off on up to 650Gl worth of environmental works and measures to meet the plan’s target of 2750Gl, and included projects to provide environmental benefits in the basin.

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