Sheed calls for cap on Goulburn trades

Shepparton MP calls for urgent action on river trades

Irrigation
RIVER DAMAGE: Shepparton Independent MP Suzanna Sheed says the Victorian Government needs to limit the amount of water, being traded out of the Goulburn River.

RIVER DAMAGE: Shepparton Independent MP Suzanna Sheed says the Victorian Government needs to limit the amount of water, being traded out of the Goulburn River.

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Invoke water trading rule powers to stop Goulburn River damage: Sheed

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Independent Shepparton MP Suzanna Sheed has called on the State Government to cap trades out of the Goulburn River, to reign in what she says is the damage being caused by high inter-valley flows.

Ms Sheed says Water Minister Lisa Neville needs to invoke Rule 26, which caps trades, due to problems being caused by high flow inter-valley and environmental transfers, to downstream almond growers and SA.

"For years the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority has been tasked to deal with the improvement of the environment of the Goulburn River banks and verges and substantial sums of money have been invested in this work," Ms Sheed said.

Read more: Record Goulburn IVT transfers, says MDBA

"We are now being faced with the loss of that valuable work as a result of frequent high level flows down the Goulburn River to meet inter valley transfers and environmental requirements.

"Something needs to be done to prevent ongoing damage."

She asked the Water Minister to invoke Rule 26 of the Water Trading Rules to put a cap on trades, or refuse any further trades that would be likely to cause any material adverse impact on the environment or other water users.

"When water trading was introduced the social and environmental damage that would be caused as a result of significant inter valley transfers further downriver and beyond the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District was not anticipated," Ms Sheed said.

"The socio-economic damage to the GMID has been clearly articulated in a number of reports including that obtained by your government.

"It is now quite clear that the architects of the Murray Darling Basin Plan were well aware of the damage to irrigation communities that would flow from the plan but were not prepared to be upfront about it.

She asked Ms Neville to visit Shepparton to see for herself the damage occurring in the river system.

"The trade of water at such high levels out of the GMID must be reviewed as a matter of urgency and steps taken to reduce the impacts that are now so obvious," she said.

Ms Neville's office has been contacted for comment.

Grid welcomed

Meanwhile, the National Party's election commitment to a National Water Grid has been cautiously welcomed by a southern Riverina lobby group.

Speak Up Campaign deputy chair Lachlan Marshall said any investment in dams and securing water for future generations was a step in the right direction.

Nationals' leader Michael McCormack said the grid would bring together the world's best scientists, to take politics out of the way water is captured and stored in Australia.

Mr Marshall said a multi-generational, rather than a political, approach to water policy was well overdue, and desperately needed with a population expected to increase 60 per cent to 37.6 million by 2050.

"We are going to need a significantly different approach if we want to feed these people and protect an export industry that contributes billions of dollars to our economy," Mr Marshall said.

"The current approach to water management is not working and we must become a lot smarter around how we use our most precious resource.

"Rain does not always fall where we need it, and often there is excess rain where it is not needed."

He said lessons must be learned from past mistakes, in particular the politicising of science.

"Unfortunately, as we have seen with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, politics and science go hand in hand.

"Governments fund the scientists, so, too often, we get the results governments are looking for, instead of the effective balance that is required to achieve good policy."

The politicising of science had led to flaws in the Basin Plan, which some scientists were prepared to call out, while it appeared others wanted to ignore them.

"As a consequence we have the equivalent of more than half a Sydney Harbour running over the banks of the Murray River and into forests being wasted; we have river bank slumping and damage to the iconic Barmah Choke, and we have a carp breeding explosion.

"All this is occurring because we are trying to force undeliverable volumes of water to South Australia because politicians, with the backing of some scientists, want fresh water in a once estuarine system," Mr Marshall said.

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