MEDIA RELEASE

9 November 2020

 

Tim Quilty visits Cobram to hear how Murray Darling Basin Plan has ravaged communities

Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty visited Cobram today to listen to how the Murray Darling Basin Plan has impacted communities.

Mr Quilty has long been a critic of the plan, calling it a “disaster” which has been destroying the Murray River, and today’s visit only reaffirmed his opinion.

“The fixation with getting all this water to South Australia when it’s not supposed to go there is beyond ridiculous – this water is needed by farming communities, not being poured out to sea in a futile attempt to keep the Murray mouth open without dredging,” Mr Quilty said.

“I met members of the community today who have been suffering enormous hardship for years, who continue to suffer hardship and they see no end to it.

“They’ve had a gutful, their homes and communities have slowly deteriorated, and they are convinced nobody gives a stuff about them.

“Nobody has the political guts to stand up for these victims and say ‘Enough is enough’.”

Mr Quilty met Adrian Hayward, owner of Advanced Dairy Systems, who has watched his customer base shrink as the years grind by.

“We started our business in 1999, supplying and installing milking machines, and in that time we’ve gone from servicing 140 farms down to 80 because of the way water’s been ripped away,” Mr Hayward said.

“Farmers have become so cash-strapped that the vultures have come in.

“For thousands of years the Lower Lakes of the Murray in South Australia were estuarine, but now it’s all fresh water which people can put their boats on.

“How would you feel if you were a farmer with an irrigation channel next to your farm and you’re seeing water day in, day out going to South Australia?”

Mr Quilty would like to see less emphasis on environmental water in the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

“I’m not opposed to water trading - a free market allows water to go to where it’s needed, but water can’t be traded above the capacity of the river to carry it,” Mr Quilty said.

“The allocation of water to environmental flows has distorted this process.

“Much of this environmental water can’t be used so it goes to waste – rivers in the basin have been run at full capacity to get rid of this so-called excess water, and this is causing major erosion.

“I’d like to see some of the environmental water put back into the system and the construction of dams to catch more rainwater.”

Mr Quilty believes incentives for businesses and a government regionalisation policy would encourage economic growth in country areas.

“There has been a centralisation of business in Melbourne which drains money away from the regions,” Mr Quilty said.

“We should be decentralising government departments and encouraging the relocation of large companies to bring more jobs and more families into the regions.”

For more information, contact Graham Springett | 0408 208819