THE importance of ensuring areas such as Leeton shire remain vibrant and diverse irrigated communities was stressed at a recent meeting with the country's federal water minister.
Leeton Shire Council mayor Paul Maytom was invited to attend a session with Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt last week, along with other stakeholders, Griffith mayor John Dal Broi and representatives from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
Councillor Maytom sat next to Mr Pitt during the meeting in Griffith and was given ample time to have plenty of one-on-one discussions with the minister.
We should be looking at the net value of irrigated agriculture to our region and what that adds to our economy, jobs and families.Leeton Shire Council mayor Paul Maytom
Some of the points raised by Cr Maytom included:
- Acknowledging the unintended adverse impacts on regional communities as a result of certain water policy decisions and the operation of water trading markets.
- Providing enhanced water access for general security water holders in regional communities who depend on the availability of this water for their livelihoods and employment.
- Ensuring decisions foster diversity in agriculture and value adding industries as diversity is our strength and builds resilience in our communities and economies.
- Reviewing and adjusting timelines for the completion of Murray-Darling Basin projects and plans such as the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, sustainable diversion limit adjustment measures projects and water sharing plans to be more realistic, achievable and prevent any adverse third-party impacts.
Other points were also given to Mr Pitt in a briefing note to ensure he could take all of the information back with him.
"I think it was an extremely beneficial meeting to be part of," Cr Maytom said.
"It's important issues are being addressed, but not to the detriment of our communities.
"I also spoke to the minister about water leaving our area and going downstream to greenfields sites.
"We should be looking at the net value of irrigated agriculture to our region and what that adds to our economy, jobs and families.
"It was pleasing to see the minister visiting the region and listening to concerns."