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Anger builds on the Murray River

Friday, 6th September, 2019

An effigy of Water Minister David Littleproud is tossed into the Murray River yesterday. An effigy of Water Minister David Littleproud is tossed into the Murray River yesterday.

By Craig Brealey

An effigy of the federal water minister, David Littleproud, was stuffed into a toilet bowl and thrown into the Murray River during a rally by thousands of farmers and citizens at Tocumwal yesterday.

Chris Brooks, chairman of the Southern Riverina Irrigators, said people were fed up with government doing nothing about their plight despite years of complaints and all the evidence showing the corruption of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. 

“It’s called the Murray-Darling and they’ve killed one and now their killing the other,” Mr Brooks said.

Farmers in the nation’s food bowl have, under the Plan, been denied water to grow their crops because the Murray River is having to supply water to South Australia that had come from the Darling. 

That supply - about 43 per cent of SA’s water - was given to irrigators in the northern basin, Mr Brooks said.

“They let yours run dry, the Kakadu of the south. Now it’s a bloody dustbowl,” he said.

“Here we have zero allocations, our crops are dying while the river is in flood, causing environmental and economic damage.

“They have taken productive water away from our farmers, using the excuse that the water is needed for environmental flows. 

“Now Australia is importing wheat from America and milk from Europe.”

Yesterday’s rally in Tocumwal, on the Murray east of Albury, was expected to attract 1000 people.

“We had a great shindig down here,” said Mr Brooks. “Four thousand people, so the cops told me.”

The new Member for Murray, Helen Dalton, who took the seat from the Nationals, was among those who addressed the rally. Mr Littleproud declined an invitation to attend. 

After the speeches, the protestors marched across the bridge with the dummy of Littleproud and tossed it into the drink. They also blocked the Newell Highway.  

“We had a hell of a lot of irrigators from NSW and local people, and business people who are going broke. People are getting really angry,” Mr Brooks said.

He said a motion was drafted and the government has been given two weeks to respond.

The Southern Riverina Irrigators recently began a class action against the Murray-Darling Basin Authority for $750 million in damages.

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