Mass protest demands immediate action on Murray Darling Basin Plan

By Sophie Baldwin

TRUCKS numbering in the hundreds, with horns honking and slogans plastered across their trailers, others loaded with hay and machinery, surrounded Parliament House on Monday to the resounding cheers of thousands of men, women and children who had converged on Canberra calling for #cantheplan.

Farmers, business owners and concerned community members made the trek to the nation’s capital from across the basin – all with the united goal of drawing attention to the disastrous implications of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and calling for change.

It was a spectacle to behold as the crowd then marched its way to the front doors of Parliament House demanding Environment Minister and Member for Farrer Sussan Ley, and Water Minister David Littleproud, face the crowd. Just like the rally held in Tocumwal three months ago, the crowd was even bigger and just as passionate as Barooga mixed farmer Carly Marriot once again led the charge.

“We came here today to deliver a message and wanted to be heard and we have achieved that,” Carly said.

“The real win was getting our delegation inside to talk to Littleproud and Ley. They have to listen to us now when we are right at the front door – we want action and we want water,” she said.

While details remain confidential, organisers and negotiators Chris Brooks (Barooga) and Darcy Hare (Barham), confidently announced to the crowd there will now be some irrigation water available for the 2020 season.

“You can sow a crop next season and know you can bring the bastard home,” Chris said. Moama farmer Peter McCallum and wife Leanne headed to Canberra because the plan is failing the triple bottom line – socially, environmentally and economically.

“We have seen a massive decline in farming in our area and we wanted to represent both our family and community,” Peter said.

He said standing and chanting in front of the federal police at the entrance of parliament was an awesome experience.

“They knew we were there to get our message across peacefully and were very respectful,” he said.

Peter said he was heartened by the fact city people also travelled to the rally in support.

“I think our message is starting to be heard and with great negotiators in Darcy Hare and Chris Brooks, we were able to get some positive outcomes which have given us all some hope for the future.”

Peter said he did some rough figures and he estimates it would have cost each truck at least $1000 to attend.

“They were real heroes of the day and created a really good atmosphere.” Suzanna Sheed, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, Senator Malcolm Roberts and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter also addressed the crowd and were treated to loud cheers of appreciation.

Ms Hanson said there were “a lot of bloody idiots in this place and a lot of yes people who don’t have the guts to stand up for their people”.

“I am here, and I will not turn my back on the farming community,” she said