The head of the NSW Legislative Council’s water inquiry has slammed career politicians ahead of hearings in Griffith on Wednesday.
Shooters and Fishers Party MP Robert Brown, chairman of the upper house inquiry, said the Murray Darling Basin Plan was a failure and running policy on a four-year election cycle wasn’t good enough.
“Why have our politicians lost the ability or courage to take on ideas that will need to come to fruition 50 years from now?” Mr Brown asked.
“The basin plan is a failure without a doubt and the eastern states need to stand up to the federal government and do more to retain water.”
In the year between the announcement of the inquiry and its arrival in the Riverina, a lot has changed. In 2016, irrigators were faced with high prices for temporary water and low allocations, but flooding rains at the start of spring led to full allocations for the next growing season.
According to Mr Brown, the problem of agricultural water supply was a pressing one that couldn’t continue to be ignored.
“We can’t wait until our food supply and agricultural industries are in decline, we need to maintain these industries and in 50 years’ time they’ll be viable,” Mr Brown said.
“Perhaps what we need is something to mimic the Snowy Hydro Scheme, funded to run across several parliamentary cycles, with the power to get things done.
“You can’t fight politics with an enemy at the door and a lack of water is the enemy at our door.”
Mr Brown’s comments were well-received by irrigator John Bonetti, who said he was “completely right” about the need for more water security.
“Look around Griffith this year, with 100 per cent allocations the place is buzzing,” Mr Bonetti said.
“They talks about jobs and opportunities, these are perfect conditions.
“But if the environment is that important, why not build a dam for the environment?”