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MDBA chiefs hear views of community

Australian Food & Fibre CEO Joe Robinson explaining water use on Darling Farms to Dr Simon Banks from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, MDBA Chair Sir Angus Houston, MDBA CEO Andrew McConville and MDBA Executive Director Tim Goodes. Photo TWH

Councils across the western region had the opportunity to put their case on the future of the Murray Darling Basin Plan during a tour last week.

Murray Darling Basin Authority CEO, Andrew McConville, and MDBA Chair, Sir Angus Houston, visited Bourke, Moree, Collarenebri, and Walgett on a ‘listening tour’ of the region as part of the upcoming ten-year review of the Basin Plan.

Sir Angus said councils and community members were able to engage in ‘open and frank discussions’ about the plan, to make sure it balanced the needs of communities, business, producers, irrigators, and councils.

“We were interested in hearing the views of people in basin communities,” Sir Angus said.

“In Bourke, the Council expressed concern about water buy backs during a long discussion. Their concerns were around the 1.9 gigalitres of water that has to be found in this catchment area and the effects that the plan has had in the past on families and people who have had the water bought back by government.

“We were very frank about the fact that this is government policy that must bridge the gap. We are 49 gigalitres short of the 2100 gigalitres required in the water buybacks. We have to see what happens beyond that to meet the buybacks and that is why the review, and the future of the Basin Plan is very important,” he said.

Mr McConville said water was still the biggest issue facing Basin communities and the challenge was in balancing the needs of the environment and the communities which relied on the Darling River.

Part of the tour was a visit to the Brewarrina fish traps and a tour of the Aboriginal Cultural Museum led by guide Bradley Hardy.

“We were blown away by number of fish-eating birds wonderful to see the water flowing through there and the wildlife looking healthy and the plentiful supply of fish,” he said. […]

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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