Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Environmental watering engagement officer delivered

A permanent environmental watering engagement officer will be based in Deniliquin from as early as July.

TYLA HARRINGTON April 11, 2014 3:30am

Murray Local Land Services general manager Gary Rodda, Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder David Papps, Member for Farrer Sussan Ley and Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Simon Birmingham.

The Federal Government will have a permanent environmental watering engagement officer based in Deniliquin from as early as July.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Simon Birmingham and Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder David Papps delivered the news when touring the region yesterday.

They met with more than 30 local stakeholders at The Crossing Cafe yesterday morning.

The officer, who will be based at Murray Local Land Services, is expected to ensure local knowledge and views are taken into account when considering Commonwealth environmental watering decisions.

Mr Birmingham said the announcement was a direct response to suggestions from irrigators, local environmental groups, community representatives and other interested parties that the ‘‘Commonwealth needs to better engaged with people on the ground and take more local knowledge and experience into account’’.

‘‘Not only is this expected to maximise environmental benefits but ensure we avoid any negative third party impacts from environmental flows, and if possible create win wins,’’ he said.

‘‘This will mean real feedback and in no way will stop me coming to Deniliquin or stop (Member for Farrer) Sussan Ley.

‘‘It will be an extra eye and ear to communicate local concerns back to Canberra and make sure we get them fixed as quickly as we can.’’

Mr Birmingham said the engagement officer’s role was crucial to managing environmental water efficiently and effectively.

‘‘Officers will work closely with our state agency delivery partners and our monitoring teams to ensure that there’s consistency in decision making.

‘‘We understand the need for good working relationships between the Commonwealth, states, industry and communities, to ensure that both the environment and the community are getting the most out of our Commonwealth environmental water — basically making sure we get the best bang for our buck.

‘‘To do this we need people positioned in the regions to engage effectively and meaningfully, to ensure that information flows both to and from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.’’

Southern Riverina Irrigators chair John Bradford said the announcement was a good sign local concerns were being listened to.

‘‘It’s obvious there’s an interest in our community. There’s steps being taken so we can be heard,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s very encouraging. The government will make decisions ... we can’t kid ourselves by saying they won’t but we’re now able to put our concerns forward and that’s what we want.’’

Murray LLS general manager Gary Rodda said the importance of having an engagement officer based in Deniliquin ‘‘can’t be understated’’.

‘‘LLS thinks this is an incredibly positive step forward in the relationship between the Commonwealth Government and the local community.

‘‘I congratulate David Papps and Simon Birmingham for making this happen.’’


More local engagement officers will be based at Leeton and Dubbo in NSW, Mildura in Victoria, Berri in South Australia and Goondiwindi in Queensland.

~ more stories in Tuesday’s Pastoral Times.

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