Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Maria Riedle: Demanding open, inclusive community engagement on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan by Craig Knowles AND the MDBA

Maria Riedl is a hardy and experienced water campaigner.  She lives in the Mildura district and has written this letter to her local paper:
Dear Editor,

With the draft Murray Darling Basin Plan set to be released on the 28th of November, it is time for Victorian communities to contact the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and let them know how you would prefer to be consulted. I encourage my community, both sides of the river,  to contact MDBA directly through their email (engagement@mdba.gov.au), their phone line (1800 230 067) or their on-line blog (http://freeflow.mdba.gov.au). 

And perhaps contact council to ensure that anyone who wants to attend can even if this means more than one meeting in the day in a large venue, when the MDBA is here!

My name is Maria Riedl, I am on the Victorian Water Minister Peter Walsh's Advisory Committee for the MDB Plan as a community member, and I just received this. We need to have public meetings as we did last time with the MDBA about the Basin Plan. I urge the community to ask that there be a proper, open and inclusive consultations held by the Murray Darling Basin Authority here, and to ensure that hard copies of the proposed Basin Plan are available before the community meeting for everyone that wants one. Perhaps council can ask that the MDBA send a very large number and make them available to everyone, so we know what is proposed.

Community consultation is vital and it must not be limited to interest groups only,  but include the entire community; anyone who is interested in making a submission to the proposed Plan. Being informed, by having all the information in front of us (this includes Mr Knowles and the MDBA and the relevant supporting documents) allows us to participate in decision-making, resulting in a better outcome for the environment, for irrigators and for all who rely on the Basin's natural resources; both underground and surface water. 

Our natural resources provide totally free benefits and this must be acknowledged. 

It is time to ensure that the balance between environmental and human usage is fair and equitable, and will stand the tests of climate change, increases in population, in human usages such as mining, forestry and other. It is no longer possible to go along a 'business-as-usual' path, it never was!

I encourage all my community, both sides of the river, to take an interest. Ask for full community meetings (more than one if needed because of interest)  with the MDBA to inform and to debate. This is how democracy works. This is participatory democracy, not decisions handed down from politicians and others with vested interests. Government by the people for the people!

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