House debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Statements by Members

Drought

1:25 pm

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to note a crisis rally being staged by Speak Up 4 Water next Monday in Deniliquin in my electorate of Farrer. It is in response to the growing impact of drought. In this case we're not praying for rain; we're praying for common sense. Irrigators in the mid-Murray region are fighting for water currently in storage for future environmental flows to instead be used to save dying winter crops. That water can also be used to finish off fodder for drought-stricken stock across the rest of New South Wales and Queensland. The plan is to borrow this water up to 100 gigalitres.

The irrigators I represent are prepared to take the risk of the dry continuing, guaranteeing to pay back the water in coming months, regardless of whether it's needed for the environment then or in future years. Among the many showing support for the proposal is one Finley producer who says all the dryland wheat he has is going to die unless rain or watering occurs in the next fortnight. Some is already falling over, in fact.

I'm asking the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to work with New South Wales and South Australia to find the water that is there, ready to be used; it's just a matter of what we do with it. Water for the environment and agriculture is a necessary but often conflicted consequence of the basin plan, but it is a problem that my constituents want urgently solved.

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