A WATER forum organised by the Speak Up Campaign attracted more than 300 people to Moama on Friday to demand immediate and major changes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
Primarily the forum wanted the plan to stop taking water from the southern basin and balance the flawed plan, which organisers said was based on inaccurate environmental science and a money-grab for water.
Rural communities have borne the brunt of the devastation of losing water; with some experiencing population and workforce declines of up to 50 per cent.
The Goulburn Murray Irrigation District was facing an economic loss of $550 million a year while the Murray Valley Irrigation District was losing $120 million at the farm gate.
Campaign chair Shelley Scoullar was delighted with the support shown by the community.
“The forum has showed people want to know what is happening and that they want to get involved,” Shelley said.
Speak Up is calling for a more balanced plan based on correct science and ending the water grab from the southern basin.
“The political promise the Basin Plan would deliver a ‘triple bottom line’ balance between social, economic and environmental outcomes has been totally ignored and is not occurring,” she said.
“There is indisputable social and economic damage far in excess of what modelling predicted, yet nothing is being done to redress the balance and there have been negative environmental consequences but these are not adequately acknowledged by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.”
The grassroots community suffering under the plan, want their voices heard.
“Our organisation looks forward to meeting with Prime Minister Turnbull, State Premiers and various State and Federal Water Ministers to express the views of our affected communities,” she added.
Barham farmer Neil Eagle said it was time the MDBA acknowledged the plan was a train wreck.
“There are too many people making decisions that have no fat in the game. It’s time they started to listen to the people this affects.”
Cohuna dairy farmer John Keeley said without water his farm has no future — “I have a vested interest in this and no more water should be taken for the environment. I think it’s time we got a fair deal’’.