ANOTHER massive community rally, a march on Canberra or even a protest on the Harbour Bridge should be the focus for locals concerned about the impacts of the looming Murray-Darling Basin Plan, according to one of the nation’s leading lobbyists.
Toby Ralph, a consultant with the Basin Communities Association (BCA), said as the plan enters the crucial political phase, residents should invoke the same “power and passion” shown at the Yoogali Club rallies in October 2010 and December 2011.
“The community still needs to make it clear that it will suffer tremendously under this plan,” Mr Ralph said.
“And yes, there should be rallies and people should still be writing to members of parliament to keep urban dwellers aware that there is a downside to the plan.
“People in cities think because this will benefit the environment, then it must be all good.
“We need to be taking action that will make the city newspapers and that means another rally in Griffith or it may mean a march on Canberra or, better still, a march across the Harbour Bridge.”
The public submission period for the draft plan ended on Monday and the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) will now consider the feedback and prepare a final plan for federal water minister Tony Burke.
Murrumbidgee Valley Food and Fibre Association president Debbie Buller said political pressure from locals was now more important than ever.
“People need to realise that this problem is a purely political one now and we need to show we won’t be used as cannon fodder for an ideological position,” Mrs Buller said.
“Communities like ours have been purpose-built for food production and we’re just about to celebrate 100 years of existence – what could be the justification for threatening that?
“There’s a thought in Canberra that if it doesn’t appear in the media, it didn’t happen and so anyone willing to speak up should speak up.
“When something happens in Griffith, Canberra takes notice and we need to get their attention again.”
She said the government should shift the focus of the plan from water buyback to upgrading ageing irrigation infrastructure.