Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Murray Group chair questions future

The Murray Group of Concerned Communities may disband at a meeting this month.

January 2, 2013 4:38am

A meeting will be called this month to decide the future of the Murray Group of Concerned Communities.

Created specifically to target the development and implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, MGCC chair Bruce Simpson said its continuation may no longer be necessary.

The basin plan was passed in to law in November, recommending 2750 gigalitres of water be diverted from vital food production to the environment.

While Mr Simpson said there was still much more to be done in the finalisation of the plan, he was not certain the MGCC would continue to play a role as it moves forward.

But he said he would be guided by the community and basin plan stakeholders.

‘‘For the MGCC, the next step is to call a meeting in January to consider MGCC’s future and the best structure going forward.

‘‘In my view (continuing as we are or disbanding) are the two main broad options.

‘‘If we decide to continue, we need to decide what’s the best way to do that.

‘‘My proposal will be to consider that it’s now a role for local government to take on, but it’s up to the group.’’

Mr Simpson said the MCGG, its members and its stakeholders have worked tirelessly to achieve the best possible basin plan outcome since the organisation was formed two years ago but felt they could not do too much more at a community group level.

‘‘When the community is confronted with a crisis they operate more effectively,’’ he said.

‘‘But when we start to move away from crisis the effectiveness is questioned.

‘‘The purpose of the MGCC is to influence the outcomes of the basin plan.

‘‘Broadly, the community has a range of views. Some view that we failed because the plan is now law, and others say we have been very positive.

‘‘But I can say, that without the MGCC and other community groups, the plan would be significantly worse.

‘‘Who knows what scenario we may have ended up with.’’

Mr Simpson said regardless of which direction the MGCC takes, there is still much to do in terms of creating the most suitable basin plan for all parties.

‘‘There is still an enormous amount to do,’’ he said.

‘‘There is still an inter-government agreement to be signed of yet, which I expect will be on the next Ministerial Council meeting agenda.

‘‘Following that, we need to work out how do we, or the states, implement the obligations.

‘‘How will communities and organisations play the game to influence the outcomes?

‘‘There is a lot yet to go on at a political level.

‘‘At our level, it is about considering the best way forward for our communities, how to stay engaged and how to stay effective.’’

Also yet to be finalised is the Federal Government’s plan to recover an additional 450GL of water, on top of the 2750GL already set out in the plan.

Legislation to create a $1.77 billion account to fund the project was passed by the House of Representatives in early December.

It has not yet been passed by the Senate.

A closer look at the bill reveals references to payments for communities negatively affected by the project.

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