Thursday, 14 October 2010

Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) - Community Engagement - Shepparton - # 3



Above is the documentation that undergirded the speakers from the Murray Darling Basin Authority - namely Mike Taylor, Rob Freeman, and Fraser McLeod.  I hope this document is helpful for those people who are unable to attend any of the Community Engagement events being held throughout the MDB.  

Below is the documented summary of what came from the Q & A component of the CE program at Shepparton.  Miss Eagle attended the 2pm-5pm session of this process and, while the summary is an adequate reflection, as readers of the summary can see and understand for themselves, it is a sanitised version of what came from the Q & A.  When I say sanitised, I don't mean that horrible stuff has been tarted up.  What I mean is that it could be a bit difficult for individual questioners to see their thoughts and words reflected directly back at themselves.  

The following issues were raised by the Shepparton community:
Key messages provided to the Authority during the Q & A
Consultation
You have come to consult with us early in the process. We request that you return to the region again before the end of the consultation process once we have had more time to consider the contents of the Guide.  We are sceptical that this is a genuine opportunity to influence the Basin Plan.
Social and economic
There is major concern about the adequacy of the social and economic impact analysis undertaken by the Authority.
The implementation of the Basin Plan will have significant impacts on rural and regional areas including depopulation.
This will result in reduction in food production.
Don’t believe that the estimate of a reduction of 800 jobs within the Basin as a result of the Basin Plan is accurate.  Need to do additional socio-economic work as a major priority. Need to do much more local scale analysis. For example there is good local information available in Campaspe Shire.
Much concern about the devaluation of assets, in particular land, and this will reduce investor confidence.
Need investment in on farm and community measures for secure communities.  Need improved certainty to support broader investment.
Need to consider what constitutes fair compensation. 
Water planning and policy
There has been a lot done to date to address the balance between environment and water use and the community’s contribution needs to be recognised and accounted for.
Need to consider the contribution of engineering solutions including diversions of water from outside of the Basin where water is being wasted flowing to the sea.  
Water buyback
Various concerns about the current approach to buyback and the impacts were raised with representatives of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, which administers the program.
Environmental water
Recognition that water is required for environment the issue is how much is required for the environment and how social and economic impacts are taken into account.
Science and information
There is a lot of information provided in the guide but more explanation of information is required. For example has existing environmental water already been accounted for in calculating the additional water required for the environment?
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Finally, some photographs to give you a feel for the events of the day.  There were two Community Engagement sessions at Shepparton.  Each attracted approximately 500-600 people. And they all got seating at the Goulburn Valley Hotel Function Room.  Dramatic reporting has come from the Deniliquin and Griffith engagements.  What happened at those places did not occur in the Shepparton engagements.  

This did not mean that there were not strong feelings.  There were. The people at Shepparton handled themselves well...even those who clearly had strong feelings.  Take a look for yourselves, Networkers.
As we went in, we could take a show bag and fill it with 
The Guide to the plan and all sorts of other material.

The MDBA people were not the only ones distributing material.
Some concerned citizens were there too.

And there were posters galore giving messages....
....loud and clear
And in case this feeling was thought to be sectional,
this sign on a hotel facing a major intersection
gave the impression of a solid community viewpoint...
...and perhaps the For Sale sign next to it told a story.

Miss Eagle is not passing comment on The Guide at this moment.
She does have something to say, particularly with regard
to some systemic weaknesses she perceives.
However, she is still wading through it all and 
she will comment on conclusion.

ABC Reporter Mary Goode spoke with Chair Mike Taylor.

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