WITH the federal election fast approaching, The Irrigator is giving each of the nine candidates in the running for the seat of Farrer the opportunity to have their say on a certain issue each week.
This week's topic is water.
Sussan Ley (Liberal Party)
"Most of the Basin Plan angst is with it being too inflexible, with not enough give and take between environmental water and water for farmers and I actually agree with that argument.
If every one of Farrer's farmers and irrigators wanted to pause the Plan then I would fight for that. The reality is very different.
If you stop the Plan or hold yet another Royal Commission, the result could actually mean we are worse off and that will certainly be the case if Labor, the Greens or Independents have control of the Parliament.
What we need to do is slow down the Plan and this is already occurring through other means, including last December's Basin Ministerial Council which agreed to apply a more rigid test around the extra 450gl recovery - so strong that I hope it never actually happens.
My other priority was to secure an 'independent' panel assessment of how each of our communities is being impacted by low or zero NSW general security water allocations.
The Minister announced this new analysis last month, and I was pleased to see it receive immediate backing by both the NSW Irrigators Council and National Farmers Federation.
The report will evaluate the current rules, water trading and outcomes affecting the Basin Plan, and I am extremely confident it will lead to the common-sense changes we in the MIA and southern Basin are crying out for."
Kevin Mack (Independent)
When Farrer farmers rallied in Albury in April, it emphasised the Federal Government's failure to develop regional policy that adequately supports growth and economic development across rural and regional Australia.
Farmers throughout Farrer have taken a stance against the impacts of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
I support the farming community's call to "Pause the Plan" and establish a Royal Commission that would review and revise the impact of the plan on the nation's southern food bowl.
The Murray Darling Basin Plan is not working for the environment, for our national and state economies, our regional economies, farmers and plans to grow regional Australia.
The provision of water is only one part, but an incredibly important part, of what must be a wider strategy for a prosperous regional Australia.
When you have farmers unable to grow crops and earn a living, then you have no expenditure in our towns and cities. Businesses small and large are impacted when their own incomes decline.
Farmers can no longer spend money on entertainment, groceries, clothing, vehicles, and household and business goods and services.
Our health services are also affected when communities experience growing mental health problems because of the pressure on farmers and their families.
Kieran Drabsch (Labor)
As climate change intensifies the risk of drought and water shortages become ever more common.
As a nation we need to identify and invest in water innovation that will deliver short- and long-term solutions to the water crisis engulfing our communities today to build a sustainable future for the next generation.
A fair go for water means a fair go for Farrer.
Over the last five years our trust has been broken by special deals, water theft and mismanagement both intentional and unintentional by the Federal and State Coalition governments.
My Fair Go For Water Action Plan is about restoring trust in the management of water in the Murray Darling Basin.
If elected as Member for Farrer I plan to establish a Sustainable Water Research Centre, a Hydro Harvester trial site, and an independent national water theft task force.
We need to ensure all water users abide by the same standards of water efficiency and metering and where necessary establish appropriate models within two years where they are currently missing.
The cost of another three years without a Fair Go for Water is too high. It's time to send a clear message to Canberra that we want fair, transparent and sustainable water management.
Philip Langfield (Christian Democratic Party)
WATER is a burning issue, not just for this election. It's something that has been brewing and building up for a long time.
The government simply haven't been looking to the future, and there should be a royal commission into it.
Until we go back to the grassroots of the problem we're not going to solve it. We've run out of water, and it's not just because of the drought. If we're going to grow as a nation, particularly agriculture, we need water. Water is the lifeblood of the land. You've only got to look at Griffith and Leeton; both beautiful places. Without Burrinjuck dam and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, places like those wouldn't exist. It'd only be grazing fields.
We've got to look with a vision to the future and start again from the basics, right to the Darling River and its catchments and have an overhaul of the whole system. There are many things wrong with the system, things people did over 50 years ago. A lot of the turkey nest dams along the system are very inefficient. The system has grown and grown and we've got to have more water and that involves more dams in the catchment area and maybe even sending that monsoonal rain into the Darling System.
We've been lacking vision and the courage to do something constructive. Look at the Snowy Mountain Scheme and the wonderful benefit it has been. Look at the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. It's a beautiful place. It's out in the middle of semi-desert, but with water look what it can do.
Mike Rose (United Australia Party)
The United Australia Party has vowed to abolish the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to return the once iconic river system to a healthy, sustainable and functional condition.
The Murray-Darling Basin Plan needs to be scrapped immediately to protect the system from corporate misuse and natural disaster.
The sight of a million dead fish was sickening to every Australian and a blight on successive governments who have continued to botch the management of our most treasured and iconic river system.
Corporate interests are being put before the needs of Australians who rely on this river system. Governments have allowed this to happen and must now be held accountable.
We are the only party committed to abolishing the disastrous Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Pausing the Plan will do nothing and represents a waste of votes by the electorate.
Mark Ellis (Liberal Democratic Party)
THE Liberal Democrats believe that many aspects of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan are flawed and recommend that NSW withdraw from the Plan until some issues are addressed.
Political expediency to 'save' seats in South Australia has put communities in Victoria and NSW at real risk of economic collapse. No community in SA has faced the same reduction in water.
Nobody begrudges SA a fair share of water, which is already guaranteed to them now. But when they insist on managing the Lower Lakes as artificial freshwater lakes where 900 billion litres of our water evaporates every year so they can run sailing regattas, they have to realise they are not pulling their weight.
As they continue to drain farmland in south east South Australia by allowing enormous quantities of water that used to flow into the Coorong to now flow out to sea, South Australians have to realise that we will not give up even more water to save the Coorong. They are killing the Coorong and they want us to sacrifice our livelihoods to save it.
When SA gets realistic about prudent water management in their state the Liberal Democrats will be willing to consider how we might then proceed with the Basin Plan.
Dean Moss (Greens)
Healthy rivers and waterways are essential to life in inland NSW for tourism, agriculture and the environment.
We need to remember that three million Australians depend on the Murray Darling system for drinking and bathing as well as food and fibre production and that it is a shared resource.
The Greens have always stated that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is flawed. It ignores the science of climate change and has been mismanaged at best and subject to corruption at worst.
We have been advocating for a Royal Commission into mismanagement and greed since last year and have always stated that climate change needs to be featured in the plan's design.
Ross Hamilton (Sustainable Australia Party)
The Murray-Darling Basin Plan has clearly failed NSW farmers. The reasons behind this are likely complex and varied.
The failures may be from alleged corruption, maybe theft, maybe poor management, certainly climate change.
The only thing that is certain is that southern NSW is picking up the tab for failures elsewhere.
There is little knowledge of where our water is going and without clear data we cannot have clear solutions. Metering needs to be comprehensive and transparent.
In this election, we need to be careful of politicians promising simplistic solutions for complex problems. I support a royal commission with it's powers to compel witnesses and eradicate corruption and theft. Followed by a federal ICAC.
Brian Mills (Independent)
Brian Mills is distributing thousands of leaflets with the heading of Ten Water Debate Challenges. Policy item 1 describes how the increasing cost of water can be halted and then the cost reduced.
I am writing this book My Vendetta Against Neil Andrew the chairman of MDBA and Against MDBA.
The management of MDBA should be removed immediately and MDBA should be disbanded. Instead of a hodgepodge of states, politicians and their farm peak bodies which ensures that nothing can be achieved, there should be regional control based on rivers. Prior to the MDBA, the MIA and the Murrumbidgee were sustainable. Until such arrangements as pumping water from Wentworth to Broken Hill, the Murray River was also sustainable.
Pre-polling in Leeton
Pre-polling for the federal election will be available at the Leeton Shire Council Chambers on:
- Saturday, May 11 9am - 4pm
- Monday, May 13 8:30am - 5:30pm
- Tuesday, May 14 8:30am - 5:30pm
- Wednesday, May 15 8:30am - 6pm
- Thursday, May 16 8:30am - 5:30pm
- Friday, May 17 8:30am - 6pm
Postal voting applications are also available from the Australia Electoral Commission website at www.aec.gov.au.