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Lack of transparencyon display again

The lack of accountability and transparency in water management by the Albanese Government is on display again, according to the community-based Speak Up Campaign.

It learnt after close of business on Friday that important information sessions relating to water buybacks were being held this Wednesday (March 8, 2023). On Monday, it was announced a session would be held in Deniliquin.

The announcements came from the federal Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. Subsequently, interested local people have had difficulty registering.

“Quite obviously, there has not been enough time for farmers to plan their attendance. Clearly it has been a rushed process, as on Monday afternoon the department had not even organised a venue,” Speak Up chair Shelley Scoullar said.

“It’s hard to accept any reason for the short notice, other than the ‘information session’ is announced at the last minute in the hope that few people attend. Despite all the promises, the transparency around the Murray-Darling Basin Plan continues to be at a level that is not good enough.

“First, after all the opposition to water buybacks because of their harm to our communities, we were told all options for water recovery were on the table. Then Water Minister Tanya Plibersek makes it clear that buybacks are a preferred method of recovery, despite their proven economic and social damage. Now, it appears the Minister wants to rush through her ‘framework’ for buybacks in the quickest possible time to avoid genuine feedback from our communities.”

Mrs Scoullar said despite Labor’s history with the Basin Plan, when Minister Plibersek said all options would be considered, local organisations took her at her word. However, when organisations such as Murray Regional Strategy Group and others presented highly researched, viable solutions that effectively balance water for productive and environmental needs, they get ignored.

“It seems we are just disposable pawns in a political game. In this round of buybacks there are 10 gigalitres earmarked from the NSW Murray. We have already done more than our share of heavy lifting towards achieving the 2,750 GL target and there should not be further sacrifice from this region.

“We are opposed to buybacks, and encourage farmers and community members to register for Wednesday’s information session and make it clear to Ms Plibersek and her department that this is our strong position.

“It is an insult that we are only given two days notice, but unfortunately this is just another example of the lack of respect for our region and our views from this government and its departments,” Mrs Scoullar said.

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