NSW Farmers Association, Media Release, 15 November 2023
Basin communities, farmers and businesses will join forces for the nation’s largest ever protest next week against the Albanese Government’s controversial water bill.
The coordinated action led by Deniliquin, Griffith and Leeton councils, along with key farming groups such as NSW Farmers and businesses, will see towns across multiple states host demonstrations on Tuesday, November 21, sharing the message that a rewrite of the Murray Darling Basin Plan will cost thousands of jobs and slash almost $1bn worth of food and fibre from farms.
NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin said the protests would force the Albanese Government to listen to the farmers and communities who were facing devastation.
“We are vehemently opposed to this bill, and rather than come and talk to us they hid in Canberra and held hearings,” Mr Martin said.
“Authorities are already wrecking rivers with too much water, eroding banks, killing trees and flooding properties, and the Government’s bright idea is to buy even more water – and do it with taxpayer money!”
Griffith wheat and rice grower Glen Andreazza said there was fierce opposition to further buybacks across the basin.
“We’ve seen the terrible social and economic impacts of previous water buybacks here in Griffith, and we’re afraid the Government will bleed us to death,” Mr Andreazza said.
“This is an incredibly productive food and fibre growing area, but this Government wats to tie our hands behind our backs rather than let us grow food to feed people.
“It’s madness to think we’ve got people going hungry, families struggling with the cost of living, and a Government that doesn’t care.”
National Farmers Federation President David Jochinke said towns and communities would suffer the impact of a rewritten Basin Plan, costing jobs, schools, shops, doctors, sports teams and services.
“The Federal Government has been presented with options to achieve a healthier river without the pain and cost of buybacks, but these are being ignored in favour of an easy political win,” Mr Jochinke said.
“These changes will cost thousands of jobs in farming, transport and food processing and reduce the value of food and fibre grown in Australia by $855 million per year.
“Rather than working with local knowledge-holders, they’re trying to bulldoze through with a lazy plan that will shut down farms, destroy jobs and increase the price of food.”
Griffith Mayor Doug Curran said buybacks threatened to destroy more than a century of community.
“Our forefathers knew the potential of this area and created a prosperous community, it’s a pity the current government seems determined to destroy that legacy,” he said.
“Growing less food makes us more reliant on imports and we will have no control over our own destiny.”