Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Murray MP Helen Dalton has warned that South-West of NSW is facing a "jobs and industry apocalypse" and has urged government MPs to join her at a rally to demand changes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) in Tocumwal on Thursday:
“Irrigation water prices have jumped 140 per cent in the last 12 months along the Murray River,” Mrs Dalton said
“Every single day, another family farm is priced out of the market.”
“In turn, we’re seeing corner shops close. Retail, transport and tourism are all suffering in our small towns”.
Mrs Dalton said much worse is to come if the MDBP is maintained over spring and summer.
“The Lower Darling remains dry. So – to meet the MDBP environmental flow targets – more and more water will be sucked out of the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers”.
“Prices will keep skyrocketing until every agribusiness goes bust”.
“It’s an insane thing to do while South Australia’s Lower Lakes are 99 per cent full”.
But Mrs Dalton said problems with the Basin Plan extend far beyond our neighbouring state.
“Under the MDBP, we’ve seen ruthless water trading by businessmen who’ve never set foot on a farm”
“We’ve seen an expansion of thirsty permanent crops like nuts, causing less and less diversity in our agricultural sector.
"This diversity was always our strength, so if we lose that we will no longer be Australia’s food bowl”.
“That’s why we need to pause the plan, and review it to make it work much better. Because at present, our communities are dying as a few corporates thrive”.
Mrs Dalton said the only hope for action is if government MPs put their communities ahead of politics and join the fight.
“I would love National MPs Steph Cooke, Wes Fang, Perrin Davey, Melinda Pavey and John Barilaro to join me on the stage at Tocumwal”.
“I’d share my speaking spot with them and present a bipartisan alliance against the Basin Plan”.
“It would show they’re prepared to defy their federal counterparts and stick up for their electorates”.
“The Nats say they’re the only party for regional NSW. But over the past few weeks they voted against a water royal commission, against drought relief and against culling the feral horses polluting our water supply”.
“It’s cute that they wear Akubras and take selfies in front of farms, but regional NSW needs more than that”.
“Attending this rally would make them true heroes of the bush”.