MURRUMBIDGEE Irrigation (MI) has been accused of “telling lies” after the company’s CEO once again refused to provide answers to furious flood victims at a community meeting last week.
More than 300 people gathered at the Griffith Regional Theatre on Thursday armed with questions and expecting answers over the natural disaster that ravaged the region eight months ago.
But MI CEO Raveen Jaduram said threats of a class action against the company made via the media meant he could not provide any further information.
Mr Jaduram acknowledged the company had “been silent” over the past few months and said while he understood people wanted answers, he had to follow legal advice.
Under duress, he attended the flood meeting so all agencies involved in the March flood could show a united front and could not “shift the blame”.
“MI has nothing to hide – the MI directors, management and staff continue to feel proud of their contribution during the March flood event,” Mr Jaduram said.
“Unfortunately, there have been threats of class action made via the media and MI has to take the threat of class action seriously.”
Mr Jaduram said on the advice of the company’s legal team, he could not discuss, defend or explain anything to do with the March flood to protect the interests of the company.
“MI is a private company, not a government agency or a flood management organisation,” he said.
“MI has to operate its irrigation systems in compliance with licensing conditions – we can’t change the system without approval from relevant authorities.”
Accusations from flood victims that MI ignored preventative measures which could have lessened the significance of the Yenda flood – such as clearing the East Mirrool Regulator – went unanswered.
Councillor Paul Rossetto, who initiated the talk of a class action against MI in March in a bid to claim compensation for devastated farmers, accused Mr Jaduram of lying, saying the company had not received any official documentation of a law suit.
“There is no legal action sought,” Cr Rossetto said.
“The citizens can’t sue MI without a heap of money.”
Mr Rossetto said the group had merely sought advice but was at an impasse, with the state Water Act protecting MI from litigation.
“MI is always responsible for the day-to-day management of irrigation infrastructure,” Cr Rossetto said.
“Why was the East Mirrool Regulator decommissioned without flood mitigation put in place?”
Mr Jaduram strongly refuted all allegations of lies.