Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Deniliquin first stop for new minister

Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries met with water stakeholders in Deniliquin on Wednesday

May 2, 2014 3:57am

Murray Irrigation Ltd chairman Bruce Simpson with Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water Kevin Humphries and Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli.

After little more than a week heading up the new portfolio of Natural Resources, Lands and Water, Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries visited Deniliquin to meet with water stakeholders on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Humphries and Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli met with Murray Irrigation Limited board members and staff to learn more about issues affecting the Murray region.

Mr Humphries was appointed the new portfolio in the cabinet reshuffle on April 22.

Natural resources, lands and water management had previously come under the portfolio of Minister for Primary Industries, still held by Katrina Hodgkinson, before the recent cabinet reshuffle.

‘‘With the reshuffle and appointment last week I wanted to predominately talk to the water corporations, State Office of Water and State Water staff as well,’’ Mr Humphries said.

‘‘Everybody has similar issues even though the valleys of Murray and Barwon are quite different.

‘‘There are certainly issues around water sharing plans and making sure people’s entitlements are not eroded, that water users have reliable and consistent access to that resource and they’re not paying excessively for it.

‘‘They are current issues that we are dealing with.’’

As for the immediate future, Mr Humphries suspects ‘‘there won’t be many changes to water management plans’’.

‘‘We’re in a review period for this year, that’s really to iron out some of the anomalies that might be in some of the water sharing plans across the state,’’ he said.

‘‘Obviously the bigger player that has come in to the water market as an entitlement holder is the Commonwealth ... it’s a very large holder, particularly here.

‘‘How that water is managed and meets environmental targets, but could potentially be traded back for production, is an issue for everybody.

‘‘So it’s how we get those water sharing plans more integrated between production and environmental outcomes in a sensible, cost effective way that allows for production to be sustainable so it meets our environmental targets is really what my interest is.’’

The visit was also a chance for Deniliquin to relay any concerns about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

‘‘I have a Murray-Darling Basin ministerial meeting in Adelaide next week so I have been getting people’s views on how they felt the emerging (Murray-Darling Basin) authority has been viewed from the ground level – the community and user groups. That’s been pretty mixed I have to say,’’ he said.

‘‘There are some pretty pointy issues around (water) price and reviews that should have been undertaken by the Basin Authority that I’ll raise with them.’’

‘‘There are opportunities to probably do things a little better and I’d rather hear about it at a community level.’’

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