In the lead up to the federal election, The Area News is catching up with Farrer's candidates each week and asking them where they stand on hot button election issues. This week we focused on water policy.
What is your policy on water, and what are your thoughts on the future of Murray Darling Basin Plan?
Sussan Ley - Liberal Party (Incumbent)
Most of the Basin Plan angst is with it being too inflexible, with not enough give and take between environmental water and water for farmers, and I actually agree with that argument.
If every one of Farrer's farmers and irrigators wanted to pause the Plan then I would fight for that. The reality is very different.
If you stop the Plan or hold yet another Royal Commission, the result could actually mean we are worse off and that will certainly be the case if Labor, the Greens or Independents have control of the Parliament.
What we need to do is slow down the Plan and this is already occurring through other means, including last December's Basin Ministerial Council which agreed to apply a more rigid test around the extra 450gl recovery - so strong that I hope it never actually happens.
My other priority was to secure an 'independent' panel assessment of how each of our communities is being impacted by low or zero NSW general security water allocations.
The Minister announced this new analysis last month, and I was pleased to see it receive immediate backing by both the NSW Irrigators Council and National Farmers Federation.
The report will evaluate the current rules, water trading and outcomes affecting the Basin Plan, and I am extremely confident it will lead to the common-sense changes we in the MIA and southern Basin are crying out for.
ROSS HAMILTON - SUSTAINABLE AUSTRALIA
The Murray Darling Basin Plan has clearly failed NSW farmers. The reasons behind this are likely complex and varied.
The failures may be from alleged corruption, maybe theft, maybe poor management, certainly climate change.
The only thing that is certain is that southern NSW is picking up the tab for failures elsewhere.
There is little knowledge of where our water is going and without clear data we cannot have clear solutions. Metering needs to be comprehensive and transparent.
In this election, we need to be careful of politicians promising simplistic solutions for complex problems.
I support a royal commission with its powers to compel witnesses and eradicate corruption and theft, followed by a federal ICAC.
In the interim, the water market that has created crippling water prices needs to be replaced with the old system of allocations.
Now is also the time to start preparing our water infrastructure for the next drought to minimise evaporation and seepage. With judicious planning and transparency in the system, we can farm efficiently and sustainably, ensuring our precious food bowl is passed on to future generations.
KIERAN DRABSCH - LABOR
As climate change intensifies the risk of drought and water shortages become ever more common.
As a nation we need to identify and invest in water innovation that will deliver short- and long-term solutions to the water crisis engulfing our communities today to build a sustainable future for the next generation.
A fair go for water means a fair go for Farrer.
Over the last five years our trust has been broken by special deals, water theft and mismanagement both intentional and unintentional by the Federal and State Coalition governments.
My Fair Go For Water Action Plan is about restoring trust in the management of water in the Murray Darling Basin.
If elected as Member for Farrer I plan to establish a Sustainable Water Research Centre, a Hydro Harvester trial site, funding for a Water, Renewable Energy Network, and an independent national water theft task force.
We need to ensure all water users abide by the same standards of water efficiency and metering and where necessary establish appropriate models within two years where they are currently missing.
The cost of another three years without a Fair Go for Water is too high. It's time to send a clear message to Canberra that we want fair, transparent and sustainable water management.
KEVIN MACK - INDEPENDENT
When Farrer farmers rallied in Albury in April, it emphasised the Federal Government's failure to develop regional policy that adequately supports growth and economic development across rural and regional Australia.
Farmers throughout Farrer have taken a stance against the impacts of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
I support the farming community's call to "Pause the Plan" and establish a Royal Commission that would review and revise the impact of the plan on the nation's southern food bowl.
The Murray Darling Basin Plan is not working for the environment, for our national and state economies, our regional economies, farmers and plans to grow regional Australia.
The provision of water is only one part, but an incredibly important part, of what must be a wider strategy for a prosperous regional Australia.
When you have farmers unable to grow crops and earn a living, then you have no expenditure in our towns and cities. Businesses small and large are impacted when their own incomes decline.
Farmers can no longer spend money on entertainment, groceries, clothing, vehicles, and household and business goods and services.
Our health services are also affected when communities experience growing mental health problems because of the pressure on farmers and their families.
PHILIP LANGFIELD - CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS
Water is a burning issue, not just for this election. It's something that has been brewing and building up for a long time. The government simply haven't been looking to the future, and there should be a royal commission into it. Until we go back to the grassroots of the problem we're not going to solve it. We've run out of water, and it's not just because of the drought. If we're going to grow as a nation, particularly agriculture, we need water. We've got to look with a vision to the future and start again from the basics, right to the Darling River and its catchments and have an overhaul of the whole system. We've been lacking vision and the courage to do something constructive. Look at the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, look at what that's done for Griffith; it's a beautiful place. It's out in the middle of semi-desert, but with water look what it can do.
MARK ELLIS - LIBERAL DEMOCRATS
The Liberal Democrats believe that many aspects of the Murray Darling Basin Plan are flawed and recommend that NSW withdraw from the Plan until some issues are addressed.
Political expediency to 'save' seats in South Australia has put communities in Victoria and NSW at real risk of economic collapse. No community in SA has faced the same reduction in water.
Nobody begrudges SA a fair share of water, which is already guaranteed to them now. But when they insist on managing the Lower Lakes as artificial freshwater lakes where 900 billion litres of our water evaporates every year so they can run sailing regattas, they have to realise they are not pulling their weight.
As they continue to drain farmland in South East SA by allowing enormous quantities of water that used to flow into the Coorong to now flow out to sea, South Australians have to realise that we will not give up even more water to save the Coorong. They are killing the Coorong and they want us to sacrifice our livelihoods to save it.
When SA gets realistic about prudent water management in their state the Liberal Democrats will be willing to consider how we might then proceed with the Basin Plan.
BRIAN MILLS - INDEPENDENT
I am distributing thousands of leaflets with the heading of 'Ten Water Debate Challenges.' Policy item 1 describes how the increasing cost of water can be halted and then the cost reduced.
I am writing this book 'My Vendetta Against Neil Andrew the chairman of MDBA and Against MDBA.'
The management of MDBA should be removed immediately and MDBA should be disbanded.
Instead of a hodgepodge of states, politicians and their farm peak bodies which ensures that nothing can be achieved, there should be regional control based on rivers.
Prior to the MDBA, the MIA and the Murrumbidgee were sustainable.
Until such arrangements as pumping water from Wentworth to Broken Hill, the Murray River was also sustainable.
Three tiers of Government allocated a multitude of water licenses on the Darling River without insisting that no pumps should operate unless downstream water levels are acceptable.
MDBA claimed that they could monitor water levels and water flows by satellite surveillance. After making a promise to illustrate it, they went silent.
Satellite surveillance is also capable of monitoring water for crops which should be used for water flow in the tributaries of the Darling River. It is now basically a dry river.
MIKE ROSE - UNITED AUSTRALIA
The United Australia Party has vowed to abolish the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to return the once iconic river system to a healthy, sustainable and functional condition.The Murray-Darling Basin Plan needs to be scrapped immediately to protect the system from corporate misuse and natural disaster.
The sight of a million dead fish was sickening to every Australian and a blight on successive governments who have continued to botch the management of our most treasured and iconic river system.
Corporate interests are being put before the needs of Australians who rely on this river system. Governments have allowed this to happen and must now be held accountable.
We are the only party committed to abolishing the disastrous Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Pausing the Plan will do nothing and represents a waste of Votes by the Electorate.
It is shameful that farmers are being forced off their land because they have no water allocation for next season and that our agricultural industry is on its knees. We Need to save our Food Bowl!! We need to be self sufficient again!!
The rice industry, for example, was once an exporter of 1.4 million tonnes per year to more than 40 countries. Now the region exports only 50,000 tonnes and we are a net importer of rice. This has incurred over 100 job losses from Sunrice Deniliquin alone and this does not take into account the other spin-off business who have lost valuable income.
Apart from our Farmers financial woes, mental health and people leaving towns, we also have to think about what we and our children/grandchildren are going to be eating from overseas imports.
By that, I mean, Australia is highly recognised around the world for our High Quality Control Standards in Food production - do you want to risk feeding your families/friends food that you have no idea as to how it was produced!!!
Both Liberal and Labor governments have caused this disaster and have no solution.
The United Australia Party will abolish the plan and take immediate steps to getting Water to the farmers as an interim measure pending the formulation of a new fairer plan for farmers and communities alike.
DEAN MOSS - GREENS
Healthy rivers and waterways are essential to life in inland NSW for tourism, agriculture and the environment.
We need to remember that three million Australians depend on the Murray Darling system for drinking and bathing as well as food and fibre production and that it is a shared resource.
The Greens have always stated that the Murray Darling Basin Plan is flawed. It ignores the science of climate change and has been mismanaged at best and subject to corruption at worst.
We have been advocating for a Royal Commission into mismanagement and greed since last year and have always stated that climate change needs to be featured in the plan's design.
We continue to oppose the Broken Hill pipeline and believe that over-extraction and theft in the northern part of the basin is responsible for the situation with Menindee and the Darling River.
A federal Environmental Protection Agency should be installed as quickly as possible, with the resources to investigate and prosecute water theft.
It is vital that we have a plan to manage water in the basin, although we know that the existing one needs to be overhauled.
PREPOLLING IN GRIFFITH
WHERE: Griffith PCYC 5 Olympic St
WHEN: Saturday May 11 (9:00 -16:00)
Monday May 13 - Tuesday May 14 (8:30 -17:30)
Wednesday May 15 (8:30 -18:00)
Thursday May 16 (8:30 -17:30)
Friday May 17 (8:30 -18:00)