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Strategy Group’s ‘positive’ meeting with Minister

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Murray Regional Strategy Group (MRSG), The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper

The Murray Regional Strategy Group (MRSG) has been buoyed by positive engagement with new federal Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek.

MRSG representatives met with the minister in Albury on Wednesday, September 21.

MRSG Chair, Geoff Moar, said it was a positive meeting and that, “We felt we covered more ground today than we have in a very long time. We thank and congratulate the minister on her preparation and engagement.” The MRSG delegation also included Deputy Chair, Lachlan Marshall, and Executive Officer, Meg Marshall.

MRSG was formed in 2018 after politicians recommended a more united voice on water issues in the NSW Murray, especially implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. It comprises numerous industry, indigenous, community organisations and irrigation groups from across the region.

Mr Moar said Minister Plibersek was “interested in solutions and was appreciative that our community has taken a leading role.”

“The minister understands that we do not support more water buybacks from our region, and also acknowledged there are a number of problems which need a flexible approach if they are going to be fixed.”

Mr Moar said MRSG has invited Minister Plibersek to visit the region so she can gain first-hand knowledge of the local issues being faced, as well as local solutions which have been prepared.

“MRSG has worked collaboratively with a range of government agencies, as well as getting professional scientific advice to develop our roadmap, which we believe can deliver environmental benefits, while protecting the remaining water that is available for growing food.

“Under the Basin Plan, we need to be more flexible and adaptive than has been the case to this point, and this can provide us with win-win outcomes,” Mr Moar said.

He thanked the various government agencies and departments that were involved in Wednesday’s meeting, including representatives from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

“MRSG has prioritised building relationships and working alongside these departments so we can develop Basin Plan solutions. This week’s meeting highlighted the value of these efforts, especially over the past 18 months,” Mr Moar said.

He added MRSG looks forward to further positive steps being taken on Basin Plan implementation when Ms Plibersek and state water ministers gather for their MinCo meeting next month.

“We hope all the state ministers will bring to the table this fresh approach of engagement and acceptance that we need more flexibility in Basin Plan implementation. We do not want buybacks that have decimated some of our smaller communities; instead, we need to continue moving forward with a solutions-based mindset.

“We also look forward to Minister Plibersek visiting our region and continuing the positive engagement.”

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 29 September 2022

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 29 September 2022.

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