NEW South Wales border municipalities and farmers' groups are joining forces in a concerted effort to halt the advancement of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
The first of a series of planned community meetings at Barham tonight - calling for a five-year pause in the Plan to enable communities to recover - has gained support from groups on the Victorian side of the border.
The Murray Regional Strategy Group,which is representative of Southern Riverina Irrigators, Murray Valley Private Diverters, Edward River Council, Murray River Council, Murrumbidgee Council, Speak Up and Yarkuwa is calling on politicians to pause the Basin Plan. This position is supported by many other groups, numerous businesses and community members.
The community has been urged to attend the meeting at Club Barham at 7pm.
John Lolicato, a spokesman for the groups, said that the current Plan is not working and claimed that it is failing the environment and failing regional Australia.
"We call for an immediate pause to the Basin Plan. A cooling-off period to enable a comprehensive review of the Plan is not only fair and reasonable, it would also restore confidence to those communities who live within the Basin and are most affected by its implementation", he said.
"At the same time, it would allow for a proper and timely assessment as to the effectiveness and outcomes of the Plan to date".
Leitchville farmer, Doug Fehring said that the Plan is affecting the whole community, including schools, hospitals, businesses and irrigation farms in the area.
"If you are employed in any of these areas, come to the club at 7pm tonight to find out how to pause the plan to allow our community to adjust," he said.
Mr Lolicato said that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's own website states that "the aim of the Plan is to ensure that water is shared between all users, including the environment, in a sustainable way."
He said that by any objective measure, this was not happening.
"The environmental failures have never been more evident, and will only get worse.
"The socio-economic failures are already being felt throughout the communities of the Murray-Darling Basin, and will only become worse".
The groups behind tonight's meeting state that numerous independent reports have identified problems with the Plan as a whole and aspects of its implementation and that all have found serious and ongoing concerns regarding the impact of the Plan on the environment and the regional and Indigenous communities who live in and depend on the Basin.
They state that to try and address these issues without appropriate analysis in order to meet an artificial "deadline" is both wrong and disingenuous.
"Those elected to represent us – in all parliaments and from all political parties – need to look at the growing empirical evidence from all sectors affected by the Plan and, for once, do the right thing by your fellow Australians.
"We urge you to commit to pausing and reviewing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan immediately."