THE resounding message from today’s water rally in Griffith can be summed up in premier Barry O’Farrell’s words – “tell the federal government to get stuffed”.
The rally highlighted the political phase the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has entered, where communities are reliant on the state government to lobby for a balanced plan.
While it was more understated than the fiery gatherings at The Yoogali Club in 2010 and 2011, the message from the 7000-strong crowd was loud and clear – “we’re all in this together”.
The purpose of the rally was to leave a lasting impression on Ms Hodgkinson leading into her meeting with federal water minister Tony Burke today.
Local farmer Chint Quarisa was one of seven passionate speakers and had the crowd in the palm of his hand when he delivered his heartfelt address to communities and the minister.
“Minister Hodgkinson, we need you to get down and dirty and start the fight,” Mr Quarisa said.
“We will not let our pioneers’ sacrifices, their toil and their hard work go in vain.
“He (Mr Burke) betrayed us, he’s a liar and he’s a charlatan. He cannot be believed or trusted. Please remember this, Ms Hodgkinson, when you go in and talk to him.”
Mr Quarisa spoke of the thousands of people in the basin who had lost their jobs already, and those whose homes, farms and businesses had been devalued by the uncertainty of the plan.
Ms Hodgkinson offered her unwavering support to the gathered thousands, promising the state government would not roll over, would not compromise irrigation communities and would not go down without a fight.