Minister for Water Peter Walsh has slammed the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) for refusing to hold open community meetings across Victoria’s basin communities.
Mr Walsh said he had been advised the authority was planning to meet with people behind closed doors during the 16-week consultation period of its draft plan.
“The Murray-Darling Basin Authority is not showing us they are prepared to engage with communities in an open and transparent way,” Mr Walsh said.
“I have been advised that two-day consultation sessions are being planned on an invitation only basis.
“Craig Knowles’ refusal to front up to open community meetings is clearly aimed at controlling any adverse community reaction following the release of the plan.
“Basin communities need to be involved in the development of the plan, not just its implementation, because it will affect people’s lives, businesses and futures.”
Mr Walsh made the comments while in Echuca today for the first meeting of the Victorian Coalition Government’s regional advisory group.
The group is chaired by The Nationals Member for Rodney Paul Weller and includes representatives nominated by peak bodies across farming, industry, business, tourism, local government, the indigenous community and the environment.
Six representatives have also been selected from more than 50 nominations for community positions, including four women.
“The regional advisory group is key to making sure Victoria’s voice is heard and the interests of our Basin communities are strongly represented,” Mr Walsh said.
“The work of the group will be vital in helping the Coalition Government respond quickly to matters emerging from the next draft.
“Today’s meeting addressed some of the main issues around the plan, including flow regimes, salinity targets, the potential impacts of a range of sustainable diversion limits and the community engagement process to date.”
Mr Walsh said he looked forward to hearing the advisory group’s broad range of views as the final Basin Plan was developed.
MDBA’s consultation on the draft of the Basin Plan will run for 16 weeks and is expected to start late July or early August this year, followed by a public consultation and submission period from August to November. The final plan is expected in March 2012.
Members of the Basin Plan Victorian Advisory Group
Chair: Paul Weller
Community: Diane Bowles (Mead), Robert Danieli (Kyabram), Maria Reidl (Mildura), Emelia Sudholz (Riverside), Guy Duncan (Leitchville) and Rosemary Reilly (Albury-Wodonga).
Irrigators/water services committees: Eril Rathjen (Rochester WSC), Margot Henty (Torrumbarry WSC), Ross Crawford (Central Goulburn WSC), a representative, yet to be named (Loddon WSC), Barry Croke (Murray Valley WSC), Jamie Craig (Shepparton WSC), Morris Brown (Goulburn-Broken Regional WSC), Alan Rothaker (Loddon Campaspe Regional WSC), Peter Serpell (Kiewa, Mitta Mitta and Upper Murray WSC), Malcolm Carson (Ovens, King, Mid-Murray WSC) and Andrew Young (Lower Murray Water Customer Service Advisory
Industry: Richard Anderson (Victorian Farmers Federation), John Wilson (Fruit Growers Association of Victoria), Tony Martin (Australian Dried Fruit Association), Natalie Akers (United Dairy Farmers), Robert Poole (Australian Dairy Industry Council) Paul Riordan (Olive and Almond Industry), Nick Muraca (Australian Table Grape Association), Mark McKenzie (Wine Grape Growers Australia), Kerry Murphy (Tafco) and Hugh Flett (Murray Valley Citrus Growers).
Local Government: Ed Cox (Murray River Group of Councils) and Anthony Griffiths (North East Local Government Network).
Indigenous community: Sandy Atkinson (Bangarang) and Sam Morgan (Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations).
Environment: Juliet Le Feuvre (Environment Victoria) and Helen Reynolds (Goulburn Valley Environment Group).
Tourism: Dean Oberin (Echuca)
Thursday, July 07, 2011
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