News

Water brings them all to the table

By Riverine Herald

A UNITED approach to achieving positive results for the region is being developed by the Murray Regional Strategy Group.

The group represents a broad range of community, business, local government, irrigation and Indigenous organisations across the NSW Murray region including Murray River Council, Speak Up Campaign, Murray Valley Private Diverters and Southern Riverina Irrigators.

They have come together to provide the NSW Murray with a strong, community-driven approach to solutions around Murray-Darling Basin Plan implementation and the over arching water policies in general.

Chair Alan Mathers said he was buoyed by the commitment to consensus on key issues which was evident at the group’s meeting in Deniliquin on Thursday, May 30.

“We have brought together the key people from a wide range of organisations who understand the need for our community to present a united front to governments,’’ he said.

“The call for this united approach was made loudly and clearly at a water rally in Deniliquin last August. We first started meeting later that year and now have a formal structure under the direction of a board of management.

“This is the group that will advocate on our community’s behalf, and we will be able to do it with strength in the knowledge that we have the support of so many key organisations.

“Our message is that MRSG are committed to genuine engagement with all parties, the call for this community to be protected, will be clear and concise, with everyone on the same page.’’

MRSG recently met with NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey and Deputy Premier John Barilaro, in what Mr Mathers described as “extremely constructive discussions that have laid the foundation for moving ahead in a positive way”.

“I left the meeting with a degree of confidence; that after a long, hard road we are moving in the right direction,’’ he said.

“Ms Pavey, and other members of the New South Wales Government want to engage with us and use local knowledge to protect our prosperity.

“Before the federal election I was part of a delegation that met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, he is also keen to work with the region to find meaningful solutions to address the impacts caused by the basin plan. We now have a range of people in key political positions who we believe will be willing and able to support our community, including Member for Farrer and environment minister Sussan Ley, Water Minister David Littleproud and Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie. At the state level we are working closely with our local Member for Murray Helen Dalton MP.

‘‘We will be talking with each of them on a regular basis, proving that this region now has one large, united advocacy group that is determined to achieve positive outcomes.

‘‘After some very tough years, we must take this opportunity to work collectively to progress outcomes for this region,’’ Mr Mathers said.