Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Hands off canal land - Mulwala residents

Mulwala residents have joined forces to protest against plans for the sale and possible subdivision of land at the mouth of the Mulwala Canal.

RACHEAL WILLETT December 31, 2013 10:52am

Murray Irrigation Limited (MIL), owners of the land at the mouth of the canal on both sides, has confirmed commercial options for the land are being considered because it is “surplus” to the needs of the organisation.

Resident and President of the Mulwala Progress Association Rob Purtle said any plans to sell the land would be met head on with community opposition.

“This area is a beautiful open space which, once subdivided, would desecrate and deny the custodians, the people of Mulwala, any privileges,” Mr Purtle said.

“The irrigation system in the NSW Murray Valley was developed by the NSW Government between the 1930’s and 1960’s. It remained under government control and operation until 1995 when it was privatised under the irrigator company MIL who acquired the land from the government.

“As this land was given to MIL we had hoped they would allow us to beautify the area and allow residents and tourists to use it for viewing Lake Mulwala, for fishing and general recreation activities.

“Too many open spaces are being taken away for commercial gain. Already in Mulwala only a small percentage of land on the lake is available for open space for the residents to appreciate and enjoy.”

Mr Purtle said residents had been corresponding with MIL for seven years asking for an undertaking as to the organisation’s intentions for the land.

“We have held meetings with them offering plans for open space development, however they have now decided to ‘cash in’ this land for the benefit of their shareholders, with no regard for our requests.”

MIL General Manager Anthony Couroupis told the Yarrawonga Chronicle no firm plans were in place for the sale of the land, the organisation was just considering all available commercial options.

“We are considering our commercial options, to find out what they are, because some of that land is surplus to our requirements,” Mr Couroupis said.

“We understand the community has an interest in that land. At this stage we are simply considering our options.”

Mr Couroupis said a development application for the subdivision of the land had not been submitted to Corowa Shire Council and when or if that would happen would depend on the outcome of investigations into the commercial options available.

“We are undertaking a period of considerable change in our business and part of that is considering the requirements of our business and our responsibility to shareholders,” he said.

“There’s no doubt land that fronts the lake is in short supply and we understand and respect the concerns of the community.

“That being said, at this stage, all we are doing is considering out commercial options.”

Mr Couroupis said the organisation had been approached by Mulwala residents with the prospect of a community outcome for the land.

“We have decided we will not be pursuing that option,” he said.

Mr Purtle said even though the MIL plans for the land were seemingly in the early stages, the community and visitors to the area should make their objections known now.

He said community concerns were also held for another parcel of lakefront land in Melbourne Street, owned by the Water Resources Commission, that was earmarked for potential sale.

“We hope the people of Mulwala and Yarrawonga will get behind our objections to the canal sub-division and the land in Melbourne Street as once this land is built on it will be lost forever.”

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