CALLS are growing stronger for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to be paused while critical issues are ironed out.
The Murray Regional Strategy Group has started a campaign to do just that, with a public meeting called to discuss the idea in Griffith on April 4.
The organisation is made up of businesses and groups from across the region and believes an immediate pause is necessary to "restore confidence to those communities who live within the basin and are most adversely affected by its implementation".
The group said pausing the plan would allow for a proper and timely assessment of the plan.
In a letter to The Irrigator, Murray Regional Strategy Group chairman Alan Maters said the reason for pausing the plan was simple. "The current Plan is not working," he said.
"It is failing the environment and failing regional Australia.
"The environmental failures have never been more evident and will only get worse.
"The socioeconomic failures are already being felt throughout the communities of the Murray-Darling Basin and will only become worse."
According to the group, numerous independent reports have identified problems with the plan as a whole and aspects of its implementation.
"All have found serious and ongoing concerns regarding the impact of the plan on the environment and the regional and Indigenous communities who live in and depend on the basin," Mr Maters said.
"A full review and analysis of the reports should be completed prior to meeting any artificial 'deadline' required by the plan; failure to do so is both wrong and disingenuous.
"There must be direct and meaningful engagement with basin communities at every step of the review process."
The group said pausing the plan would mean:
- Calling for all basin state and the federal governments to immediately implement a framework that will ensure no further water acquisition for a period of at least five years.
- A comprehensive review of the plan and river management by independent consultants selected by the affected communities.
- Terms of reference for the review to be drawn up by the affected landholders and communities in conjunction with state water ministers.
- The recommencement of a plan should only occur once the comprehensive review of the plan is completed and agreed upon by basin communities and government.
The meeting will be held at the Southside Griffith Leagues Club on April 4 from 6pm, with all interested residents, stakeholders and organisations from across the MIA invited to attend.
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