Commission hears about Basin Plan’s impact on rural towns

THE MIA’s chief water concerns were brought to the forefront on Friday when the productivity commission’s inquiry into the Murray Darling Basin Plan visited Griffith. 

Stakeholders and attendees brought up issues and questions around the Plan’s impact on regional communities, the way future changes would roll out and the monitoring of compliance. 

Carrathool Shire General Manager Joanne Treacy was just one of a few who voiced concern about the past and future socioeconomic impact of the recovery of any further water from rural towns. 

“The biggest one raised today for Carrathool Shire was the impact of the plan on regional towns,” she said. 

Statistics released by the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) earlier this year showed full-time employment down seven per cent since 2001. 

“You can clearly see that from those statistics towns like Hillston and Goolgowi have been negatively affected.” 

The commission is held set to be held every five years to review and assess the effectiveness of the plan across Australia.

Commissioners Jane Doolan and John Madden stopped in 16 towns across Australia to listen to the concerns of residents and stakeholders. 

A submission by the Griffith Business Chamber detailed concerns over a perceived decline in Griffith Local Government Area (LGA) Gross Regional Product (GRP). 

“Despite the significant expansion in these industries & others our Gross Regional Product for Griffith LGA has been on a consistent decline since The Basin Plan began,” he said.

“In 2010 our LGA GRP was $1571 billion dropping each year to the current record low of $1391 billion in 2016. Unfortunately, this is even worse in the our neighboring areas and towns in The Western Riverina.”

Chair of the Murray Darling Association and Leeton Shire Mayor Paul Maytom said he has concerns around the future of the MDBA’s decision about 605 gigalitres of water returned to basin communities through the implementation of nominated water efficiency projects. 

“I have concerns around the 605 SDL adjustment. The impact it could have on the southern region is immense. If the disallowance motion should occur it does concern me,” he said.

“If the motion was disallowed, it could have an impact on the roll-out of the whole plan because governments might walk away from it.”

A draft report is expected to be released by the commission in August.

Any submissions for the Commission can be made through their website and are due by April 19. 

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