A David versus Goliath battle continues, as Southern Riverina Irrigators fights for the NSW Murray region’s farmers and communities.
But it needs financial support to keep up this fight, and has launched a voluntary levy, seeking $300 from each landholding as a contribution.
SRI chair Chris Brooks is under no illusions regarding the enormity of the challenges faced, but has never been one to back down from a fight.
“Yes, winning this war is a big ask. But we need to keep going until we do. What must our forefathers, who built a system that drought proofed our nation for decades, be thinking of the current crop of leaders who are now doing their very best to destroy that foresight,” he asked.
The most immediate battle is against flood plain harvesting in the northern basin, where Mr Brooks explained Water Minister Melinda Pavey was preparing to licence 390 gigalitres and 500 per cent carryover, which is far in excess of the 46GL allocated under existing law. As a consequence, more water will be required from NSW Murray Valley general security irrigators to make up for shortfalls in South Australia.
Murray Irrigation Ltd has communicated with landholders regarding the voluntary levy to continue to fund SRI advocacy and has already received widespread support on behalf of its industry and the region’s community.
Local irrigator Andrew Crossley has highlighted the need to ‘keep up the fight’.
“This year we have had a 50 per cent allocation, even with such good conditions, and it follows the successive years of zero or close to. We cannot allow this to become the ‘new normal’. The problem is not insufficient water, it is poor management and a state government that is prepared to look after its mates in the north, while sacrificing our region.
“I, for one, am not going to just sit back and let this happen,” Mr Crossley said.
He is supported by Sharni Hood, who says the importance of farmers from across the NSW Murray uniting and fighting the inequities cannot be underestimated.
“Our costs rise and our reliability continues to declines, at the same time as those in the north get a giant helping hand from government, which continues to allow the MDBA to pour massive quantities of water out to sea and support downstream corporate almond growers who can afford to pay a huge prices for temporary water, which we can’t.
“It is not just the future of irrigation farming across our region that is under threat, but the communities which rely on the money we generate. From experience, we know organisations like National Farmers and the state and federal irrigator bodies will not go into bat for us. We have to do it ourselves.
“I’ll be happily making the contribution to SRI, because I know the importance of ensuring we continue to have someone standing up for our interests,” Ms Hood said.
Regional businesses are also encouraged to contribute to the fighting fund and can do so by contacting Southern Riverina Irrigators directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phone CEO Sophie Baldwin 0427 503 318.