Residents of the Macquarie Valley are voicing their concerns and experiences with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, highlighting impacts to local jobs, businesses and community.
Macquarie River Food and Fibre (MRFF) Chairman, Michael Egan, said the poor implementation of the Basin Plan has had massive flow on effects to people’s confidence and the social fabric of towns like Warren, Trangie and Narromine, shown clearly though submissions to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA) Northern Review.
“Our communities have the right to be concerned. Prior to water recovery under the Basin Plan 73 per cent of flows in the Macquarie River were preserved for the environment, that number now exceeds 80 per cent,” Mr Egan said.
“The largely non-strategic removal of water from production has led to unprecedented impacts across our communities beyond the farm sector.
“The MDBA’s own analysis shows that removing water from agricultural production has directly resulted in over 185 jobs being lost in towns across the Macquarie, and that’s on top of the other challenges such as the drought and on-farm technology advancements.”
Mr Egan said that is over 185 families that have been impacted which has ultimately led to fewer job opportunities, reduced apprenticeships and a decline in visitors to local clubs and motels.
“We see the Northern Basin Review, as a real opportunity to reverse some of the damage that has been caused by the Basin Plan.
“It is promising to finally see the MDBA recognise the damage that has been inflicted by the Plan, having recommended to return some water back to our communities, however, the recommendation in its current form doesn’t recognise the full extent of the damage that has already been caused.”
A growing number of community members are voicing their frustration at the current scenario:
“Our business has dropped by 30%. It’s the cruellest thing I’ve ever seen, to go through a 10 year drought and then let that water go. It’s just criminal.” Jocelyn Oriel, Bakery Café owner, Warren.
“We’ve had reduced capacity to grow crops and irrigate from a reduced supply of water, and a real uncertainty of what’s happening in the future year to year with what we can do.” Brendan Booth, corn farmer, Geurie
“The community is hurting, there’s no doubt about it. MDBA figures are suggesting 72 jobs have been lost (in the Narromine Shire), my own observations would suggest there are far more than that.” Craig Davies, Narromine Shire Mayor, Narromine
“As a parent of small children, they’re going to be leaving school in 10 years’ time, we live in Warren, we’ve invested in Warren and we’re going to stay in Warren. It’s going to be scary when they do leave school…if the works not here, they are going to have to go and as a parent that is very daunting.” Amanda Brien, Secretary Manager Warren Services Club, Warren
It’s not too late to make a submission to the MDBA, with locals having until THIS FRIDAY to have their say.
To have your say, or to find out more, visit the MRFF website http://www.mrff.com.au/the-macquarie-matters. It’s quick and easy to complete, and will ensure the Macquarie’s voice is heard where it matters most.
Media Contact: Ellen McNamara at Cox Inall Communications, on 0429 897 129 or Ellen.McNamara@coxinall.com.au.