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Time to draw a line in the sand

Our most efficient and productive agricultural systems have been compromised due to political games, but it’s time to draw a line in the sand.

The community based Speak Up Campaign congratulated 60 Minutes for highlighting the shocking state of water distribution and its impact on Australia and rural communities, adding “the time for allowing this to continue is over”.

Chair Shelley Scoullar said politicians need to come together, as suggested by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, and take proactive steps to resolve the situation that has been created.

“It is disappointing that we need a pandemic crisis to highlight a food crisis. What we need now is action and an end to the denial from politicians and advocacy groups.”

Mrs Scoullar said it is obvious that water policy has threatened staple food production as we move water to the highest value, while at the same time wasting vast quantities when we try and force too much downstream.

“This has occurred under a Murray-Darling Basin Plan that is based on flawed scientific assumptions; this has been proven beyond doubt by experts in today’s scientific community, but admitting past failures is not something our politicians and bureaucrats are good at.

“This has to change. It has to change immediately so the southern Murray region can return to its proud position as Australia’s food bowl.”

Mrs Scoullar said immediate water is needed to create food, jobs, wealth and confidence. We also must address the underlying problems within our nation’s water policy and management.

“Speak Up, on behalf of communities across southern New South Wales and northern Victoria, thanks 60 Minutes for exposing the truth about our food production capabilities. We also thank Mr Barilaro and state Water Minister Melinda Pavey for their leadership in immediately calling for a national meeting to address the issue.

“We believe the meeting of Ministers should proceed at the earliest possible opportunity. Also, it is imperative there is full transparency around the Basin Plan’s impact on our region. In the past, we do not believe governments have been given a full and unbiased account by the bureaucracy of what is happening ‘on the ground’, with an unwillingness to acknowledge the plan’s failings.

“The region that our forefathers built to protect Australia during drought and other crises has been destroyed by modern-day politics and ideologies.

“This can quickly change if we ‘turn on the tap’. Like many other decisions during the pandemic this needs to occur quickly. It can be done, provided we have the political willpower,” Mrs Scoullar said.

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