News | 21st Jan, 2010

River probe to hit town

Friday, 21 January 2010
Karen Sweeney, Bendigo Advertiser

An inquiry into the proposed Murray-Darling Basin plan will visit Bendigo today to hear the community’s views.

A House of Representatives standing committee on regional Australia is part of the way through a nine-day tour of the Murray Darling Basin.

The public consultation is a chance for the committee to understand the complexity of issues facing communities and to hear local solutions for the Murray and Darling rivers.

The committee is chaired by independent MP Tony Windsor who said there were no easy answers.

“The committee is getting a firsthand view of the problems faced in these regions,” he said.

“This inquiry is about people having their say in planning for the future of the river system and the communities that it sustains, and we are looking for solutions that are balanced and fair.

“This is a vital part of Australia, and any future plan must preserve that vitality.”

Environment Victoria will be among the groups represented at today’s public hearing at the Bendigo Town Hall.

Chief executive Kelly O’Shanessy and Healthy Rivers campaign manager Juliet Le Feuvre will speak to the committee about environmental flows, irrigation and climate change predictions.

“Providing regular smaller floods during dry years would flush organic matter through river systems more frequently, preventing the build-up of carbon that causes ‘blackwater’ events,” they say.

“(Also) fears of massive cuts to water entitlements are being exaggerated by some irrigator groups.

“In the Campaspe, Goulburn and Murray rivers over half the water savings needed to meet the minimum environmental flows recommended by the (Murray Darling Basin Authority) are likely to be achieved through existing irrigation modernisation and water buyback programs.”

They’re also expected to tell the committee that the current floods across the state are no reason to delay water reform efforts.

The inquiry will be held at the town hall from 8.45am to 1.30pm today.


More resources

Murray Darling Basin Plan: What it means for Victorian rivers and wetlands