Devil will be in the detail of PM’s Murray River water release

19 December, 2019
Devil will be in the detail of PM’s Murray River water release Image

SFF Murray MP Helen Dalton has cautiously welcomed the federal government finally answering her long-time call for a water release for Murray River farmers. But she says the devil will be in the detail.

 

“The absurdity of farmers watching fresh river water flush past them and out to sea is something I’ve been screaming about for the past year,” Mrs Dalton said

 

“I was somewhat pleased to see on Thursday the government might be getting the message, at long last”. 

 

“But there are many questions that haven’t been answered. Until we see the fodder growing, we can’t be sure of anything,”

 

Federal water minister David Littleproud announced that up to 6,000 farmers would gain access to 25 megalitres of water each, which must be used to grow feed for livestock.

 

He said the water will be offered to irrigators at $100 per megalitre and delivered by April 31.

 

“How will the government ensure the water is used for growing fodder? Which farmers will be eligible? How do we know big corporates won’t snap it up and sell for a higher price? I look forward to seeing the detail as soon as possible.”

 

Mrs Dalton said selling water to farmers for a so-called “discounted rate” was nothing for the government to brag about.

 

“The government has been charging broke Murray farmers fixed fees for zero allocation,”

 

“I know farmers who have spent $100,000 for fees over the past two years, and received no water”.

 

“This water release ought to be allocated free of cost. Those who need this most a deeply in debt”.

 

Mrs Dalton was therefore critical of the broader drought assistance package announced by PM Scott Morrison.

 

“Once again, the focus is on loans, not cash grants,”

 

“Loans will just drive farmers further into debt. They don’t solve the problem”.

 

Mrs Dalton will be taking her campaign for better water policy to the nation’s capital, joining the Convoy to Canberra – Stop the Basin Plan rally on 2 December. The protest rally is organised by a number of Southern Basin advocacy groups.

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