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Blog from MDBA meeting in Deniliquin

Thousands of people turned out to today's Murray-Darling Basin Authority consultation meeting in Deniliquin. Sam Hall from the Deniliquin Pastoral Times and Cathy Walker from Country News brought you all the action.

December 16, 2011 8:39am

The centre of Deniliquin has been blocked off for today's MDBA consultation meeting.
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12.03am - Tony Burke says he will make a judgment call on the draft basin plan next year. He says if the plan was designed to appease the Greens, it has ''failed dismally''.

 

11.17am - No speaker has supported the plan yet. Many people have said the government has hijacked the plan for political gain.

Parts of the crowd are starting to leave, but former Wakool Shire Council mayor Ken Trewin has called for people to throw their copy of the draft plan into the wood chipper parked at the front gate of the racecourse.

The crowd filing into today's Murray-Darling Basin Authority consultation meeting in Deniliquin.

11.11am - John, an irrigator from Wakool, says he's sick to death of talk. He said academics coming out and telling him the rivers are dead and dying makes him sick.

The crowd stood up in favour when John called for the resignation of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority board.

 

11.02am - Craig Knowles has vowed to keep working to make the draft plan better.

There are still more than 20 people waiting at the microphones to have their say.

 

10.53am - In response to a question from the Citizens Electoral Council, Tony Burke says ''no, I do not have a secret deal with Prince Philip!''.

 

10.48am - Irrigator Louise Burge says the draft basin plan is a political plan not an environmental one, and a $10 billion band-aid for the lower lakes.

 

10.39am - Jim Muirhead from the Finley branch of the Shooters and Fishers Party says the idea the Murray-Darling system is dying and irrigators are taking too much water is ''crap''.

 

10.32am - Tony Burke is answering questions from the increasingly restless crowd.

 

10.23am - The queues are six deep at the microphones as the floor is opened up for questions.

At least 25 people are waiting to question Federal Water Minister Tony Burke and Murray-Darling Basin Authority chair Craig Knowles about the draft basin plan - this could take some time!

 

10.10am - The crowd is beginning to get restless.

Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley says the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has so far been lazy with the plan and asked that an authority shopfront be set up in Deniliquin.

She says agriculture saved Australia from the global financial crisis.

 

10.05am - Murray Group of Concerned Citizens chair Bruce Simpson says he hopes Mr Burke and Mr Knowles got a clear message from today's speakers. 

Another vote of no confidence was passed with the full support of the crowd.

State Member for Murray-Darling John Williams is at the microphone.

 

9.57am - Murray Irrigation chair Stewart Ellis says the plan still has an unpleasant stench to it and is undeliverable.

Mr Ellis is the final speaker before the floor opens for questions from the crowd.

 

9.54am - Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Ted Hatty says his group rejects the plan totally.

He says the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has ''lost our trust''.

 

9.51am - Mr Roebuck received a standing ovation as he finished up. One member of the crowd yelled ''Bernie for PM''.

He got a huge response when he said he implored the authors of the plan not to think the people of the region were unreasonable or unimportant.

 

9.41am - Finley High School principal Bernie Roebuck is telling the crowd uncertainty is already taking its toll. He said the school had 720 students in 1990 - but now, they have just 440.

He said young people would be most affected by the draft basin plan, and they were losing heart and moving away from the region.

 

9.34am - Health worker Judy Trewin says there is no mention in the draft plan of the socioeconomic impact and the potential impact on mental health and wellbeing of reduced farm water.

She said people were being counselled for grief and loss, and asked people to stand up if they agreed with what had been going on.

 

9.26am - Jerilderie Shire Council Mayor Terry Hogan has told the crowd the region needs to ''fight like billyo'' against the draft basin plan.

He said if food production was to be doubled by 2050 water could not be taken away from the district.

 

9.22am - The massive crowd at today's Murray-Darling Basin Authority consultation meeting in Deniliquin.

The crowd at today's Murray-Darling Basin Authority consultation meeting in Deniliquin.

 

9.15am - Murray Group of Concerned Communities chair Bruce Simpson has just demanded Murray-Darling Basin Authority staff be placed permanently in basin communities.

He said the draft basin plan had failed miserably. A motion was carried to reject the plan in its entirety.

 

9.04am - The crowd at today's Murray-Darling Basin Authority consultation meeting is now closer to 3000 people.

Conargo Shire Council Mayor Norm Brennan just asked the crowd to observe a minute's silence to remember the southern Riverina district's towns as they are now, not as they will be in 2019.

 

8.57am - Federal Water Minister Tony Burke has taken the stage and was greeted by boos.

 

8.50am - Murray-Darling Basin Authority chair Craig Knowles is addressing a crowd of more than 2000 people.

The mood is fairly calm.

Deniliquin Council Mayor Brian Mitsch's opening comments about the role rice plays in feeding the world was well received by the crowd.

 

8.38pm - Traffic is backed up for a kilometre as irrigators and the local community try to find a spot at today's Murray-Darling Basin Authority consultation meeting at Deniliquin Racecourse.

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