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Rivers inquiry dodges Far West

Saturday, 17th March, 2018

By Emily Roberts

The Productivity Commission inquiry into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is not coming to take any submissions in Broken Hill, Menindee or Wilcannia.

City councillor and water activist, Tom Kennedy, said this was a concern for everyone who lived or relies on the Darling River below Bourke.

“They’re not interested in our opinion as far as the Darling River and Menindee Lakes goes,” Mr Kennedy said.

“It shows clearly that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority is interested only in the Murray River, and the NSW Government is only interested in the Darling River above Bourke.”

But Mr Kennedy said representatives of the Darling River Action Group will attend one of the forums.

“DRAG will either attend the Mildura or Bourke forum, but the reality is a lot of people will not be able to attend.

“It stops the Productivity Commission from getting that alternate view from Bourke.

“They will be missing out on a lot of information to come and my guess is that they don’t want it to show the way the basin plan works and how the Authority manages the system.

“What is said in Bourke will suit those up in the Northern Basin and what the NSW Government want to push.

“The Murray River areas will also speak about things that will benefit them.

“We miss out by not having a real voice.”

A spokeswoman for the Productivity Commission said time restraints restricted them from travelling to the district.

“The Productivity Commission has a significant task this year to review the implementation of the Basin Plan,” she said.

“Over a period of four weeks in March and April Commissioners will be travelling to select communities across the Basin to listen to views and concerns. 

“Unfortunately, given the time available for our inquiry, we are unable to hold public meetings in every community that has an interest in the Basin Plan.”

She said there were many opportunities for those interested in participating. 

“The Chair of the Commission has formed a stakeholder working group that has representation from environment, floodplain, indigenous, farming, irrigation, and local government organisations.  

“This group is an important source of advice about the best ways for the Commission to interact with their members and constituents. The Commissioners will also be holding meetings with stakeholder groups throughout the review.”

The public can also provide the Commission with feedback via its website, or write a submission in response to an Issues Paper which has just been released, she said.  

Later in the year when the Commission releases its draft report, it will hold a round of formal hearings that members of the public can participate in. 

The Productivity Commission is holding its public forums in Warren, Shepparton,  Deniliquin, Moree, Canberra, Bourke and Echuca.

It will finish in Renmark on April 17.

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