The federal government’s so-called water management “local” engagement officers will no longer be local to the MIA.
Six Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CWEH) local engagement officers have been appointed to work with communities in an effort to protect rivers and wetlands across the Murray Darling Basin.
However, temporary officers currently based in Leeton and Deniliquin are being relocated to larger Riverina cities Wagga and Albury – where they will have permanent placements.
It was a decision that took Sussan Ley, our federal member for Farrer, by surprise.
“I wasn’t made aware of the decision until it was announced and am disappointed that the Basin communities most affected by water recovery won’t continue to have someone based here.
“I’ve expressed this concern to the CEWH who is well respected across my electorate, and he has assured me no areas in Farrer will be disadvantaged by the decision.
“I am hopeful his agency will be given more resources and we will eventually have permanent personnel based in the heart of the Southern Basin.”
A spokesperson for the CEWH said, “Leeton and Deniliquin, like other significant irrigation communities across the Basin without a resident LEO, will continue to be actively serviced by the relevant Local Engagement Officer, as well as through the continuation of the regular interactions with Canberra-based CEWO staff”.
Helen Dalton, a Binya irrigator and recent state political candidate, was scathing of the decision.
“The decision to centralize “local” Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) engagement officers is yet another example of bureaucracies managing the system for the benefit of themselves and once again putting their constituents last”.
“Taking the local officers out of the regions limits our contact with the CEWH and weakens their understanding of our local environmental issues. The CEWH need to understand that the poorly thought out and ill informed decisions can have enormous negative impacts on our environment and irrigators ability to access their water in a timely manner.”
Ms Dalton believes the CEWH and Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) should instead be looking at relocating their bureaucracies closer to key Basin communities – like Griffith and Deniliquin.
The MDBA head office currently resides alongside Canberra’s trendiest cafes and restaurants.