A delegation from Greater Shepparton Council has visited Parliament to discuss what they say are the detrimental effects the Federal Government’s proposed water Bill would have on the region.
The delegation, including Mayor, Shane Sali, Councillor Geoff Dobson, and local dairy farmer and water advocate, Natalie Akers, made the trip to Canberra to ensure the voices of the region and other regional communities were heard, said Mayor Sali.
He said the Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023, which was recently introduced to Parliament, would see legislative changes made to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan which would have devastating impacts on the food bowl of Australia – Greater Shepparton.
“It was important for us to take our message to Canberra to ensure the Government was aware how serious this proposed water bill is for regional communities like ours.”
“We had several meetings throughout the day and had some tough conversations to ensure they understood the detrimental impact this bill would have. Water is the backbone of Greater Shepparton and it drives our economy.
“Local irrigators and farmers rely on this water, it is their livelihood and the way they create an income, and if the government takes this away from them it would leave rural communities decimated,” the Mayor said.
He said the delegation aimed to ensure the Government was made aware that the proposal does not only affect farmers and irrigators in the region, but all residents.
“Taking water away from communities will cause the price of fruit and vegetables to sky rocket, which will then hit the hip pockets of locals when they are purchasing their fresh produce,” he said.
“We are already in a cost of living crisis. How can you expect people to find more money to purchase their groceries each week when they are already stretched thin?
“We made sure this message was loud and clear while we were in Canberra, along with the impact this bill would have on people’s jobs and the economic uncertainty it would cause.”
Mayor Sali said the region was committed to achieving a better outcome for Greater Shepparton and other basin communities.
“We are committed to working with the Government on a solution and a better outcome for communities. This proposed water bill is not the solution for anyone – not for food production, not for the environment and not for the sustainability of communities – and more work needs to be done,” he said.
“The trip to Canberra on Thursday was just the beginning and we will be doing everything we can to address this and ensure we protect our region’s water and the important role it plays across the nation.”