It’s been a big week in the life of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
On Wednesday evening the Australian Senate’s voted to block an amendment to the laws governing the $13 billion water reform.
The amendment was to reduce the water recovery target by 70 gigalitres in the Northern Basin and while it was adopted by the Coalition government, the Greens brought a blocking motion, which was backed by Labor and Nick Xenophon Team.
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But among all the politics, there are people who’s lives and livelihoods are impacted with each vote, hanging decision and change made in Parliament House.
These are some of those faces:
‘We feel completely neglected by the people who should have stood up for us’
Balonne Shire Deputy Mayor Fiona Gasky has come up swinging after the vote saying it showed a blatant “absolute ignorance” on behalf of the politicians behind it.
“To leave our communities in this situation. So much uncertainty, jobs lost – it is just – you cannot fathom it, you wouldn’t read about it,” she said.
“We’re shocked – we can’t believe it. It’s hard to plan for the future now. Where does it leave us? How is the government going to leverage infrastructure projects if the NBR isn’t there? Is all of that consultation, all of the time that we put into the MDBA all meaningless?,” she said.
“I guess we just don’t know where we stand anymore, and we feel completely neglected by the people who should have stood up for us who have not. They have absolutely left us in the lurch.”
‘They’re a bunch of clowns’
Greg Nicol, Total Ag Services, Dirranbandi, said the local community was “numb” believing the decision would ultimately cost jobs.
“I guess the best word to sum it all up is that we are numb,” Mr Nicol said.
He said the situation was “ridiculous”, and he believed the decision was purely political.
“It’s just politics and… the realisation that we’re just collateral damage,” he said.
“The votes aren’t here in the country.
“We always thought that the Murray Darling Northern Review was about jobs, and obviously it was – but it’s not the jobs we thought along the river community, it’s the jobs in the political sphere.”
Bracing for a post-Basin Plan world: What happens next?
Prominent farmers Rob Houghton, Kel Williams and Helen Dalton; Member for Murray Austin Evans; Griffith Mayor John Dal Broi and Business Chamber president Paul Pierotti, have all said they would support the NSW government’s move to withdraw from the plan.
Mr Houghton, a Gogeldrie grower, said “we're supposed to be working together on this and what the Greens and Labor are doing is just crazy”.
"I think the states have to walk away from this plan. If not, it's all just a sham."
Not the end of MDBP: Egan
Communities along the Macquarie River will suffer as a result of “politicking” around the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Macquarie River Food and Fibre chairman Michael Egan said.
He said uncertainty would hurt rural communities on the Macquarie River – including Warren, Narromine and Trangie.
“Politics has gone ahead of common sense,” he said.
“If the Northern Basin Review doesn’t go through … it just throws it into chaos.
“The irrigators are probably secondary … it’s the communities that are left behind … the small business people with the cafes, the machinery dealers, all the chemical resellers … they’re the people that suffer.”
Broken Hill pipeline protest warns of Darling River damage
Kevin Ingram, Aston Station via Pooncarie, travelled downstream a protest at the junction of the Murray and Darling rivers with fellow Far Western NSW residents this week.
He said the river had flowed less following changes to upstream regulations.
“The Darling hadn’t been dry since 1944 until around 2000, and since then we have had four dry rivers,” Mr Ingram said.
He is a third generation farmer in the district, where he joins between 3000 to 4000 Merino ewes a year.
Catch up on your Murray Darling Basin Plan history:
The story Five reasons the Murray Darling Basin changes matter to you first appeared on Queensland Country Life.