Farmers get help from a city friend
August 31, 2018
A Melbourne woman who wants to help the national drought effort is calling on governments to make water available to save dying crops and allow fodder to be grown for starving stock.
She will deliver a petition with nearly 200 signatures, collected in only three days, to her local MP Peter Khalil.
Dorina Mansour heard about the plight in the NSW Murray from Deniliquin farmer Rob Wettenhall, following a rally attended by more than 500 concerned farmers and community members. The Mansour family have been visiting the Wettenhall family for about 20 years
The rally pleaded with authorities to make water available in their region, which features one of the most efficient gravity fed irrigation systems in the world.
They cannot understand why water is being forced down the river, pushing the Lower Lakes to minor flood level, with large quantities pouring out to sea. At the same time their crops are dying and their opportunity to grow desperately needed fodder for other drought-stricken farmers is lost.
Dorina understood the frustration and vowed to do something about it on behalf of her metropolitan colleagues.
She quickly organised the petition, and when she showed people the Open Letter from the rally and explained the common-sense solution that can help not only the farming community, but the nation as a whole, had no trouble getting more than 200 supporters. Including a team of people who have been door knocking to get support.
Dorina has also sought help to publicise the issue through her local newspaper, the Moreland Leader.
She has provided Mr Khalil and The Leader with a range of facts supporting her stance including:
- Dartmouth Dam is 90 per cent full and Hume Dam is 50 per cent. In other words, there is plenty of water in storage. There is roughly 5,200 gigalitres, or the equivalent of 10.3 Sydney Harbours, presently in the Murray storages.
- South Australia gets the first 1850GL of assigned water and its farmers have received 100 per cent of their allocation (NSW Murray have zero per cent)
- Farmers who produce milk, hay, lamb, cereals etc. have General Security entitlements. In the NSW Murray, they urgently need these lifted above zero.
- Because there has been no rain in Queensland the Murray system is responsible for providing water for SA, which is a big reason why the NSW Murray has no allocation. If SA used its desalination plant (largely funded by Commonwealth taxpayers) it would not be so reliant on upstream water supplies.
- A few farmers have water left over from last year, but not much and water on the temporary market is too expensive to make it viable to grow crops.
- We want politicians to explore every avenue possible to provide water so we are part of the drought solution. If they don’t we will soon be part of the problem.
Speak Up Campaign chair Shelley Scoullar thanked Dorina for her efforts, adding it was important for people in capital cities to understand the drought.
“Saving crops is easy, and so is growing fodder for those who do not have a water supply like we do. All governments have to do is make some water available to NSW Murray farmers.
“It makes no sense to have the equivalent of more than 10 Sydney Harbours in storage, allow fresh water to be poured into the sea, yet sit back and watch crops and stock die.
“This situation is only occurring because decisions have been made in city officers without really understanding the impacts especially on food production. Hopefully this is the start of the city becoming more engaged about where their food comes from. It was a big relief that are sensible people like Dorina,” Mrs Scoullar said.