FEDERAL Member for Mallee, Anne Webster welcomed the participation of the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, along with local stakeholders in a ’round table’ teleconference to discuss the critically important issue of water and the Murray River, held this week.

The teleconference ensured that industry, community and environmental concerns with the Murray Darling Basin in Mallee communities are heard and understood by the Minster.

“It is critical we find solutions for the Murray Darling Basin. This was made clear to the Minister by every attendee. Many are sick of continual consultation processes and endless reports. Our growers, communities and environmental users want security and solutions,” Dr Webster said.

“Recent reports handed down, including Interim Inspector Mick Keelty’s report into the Southern Basin, the Independent Review in the Science of the Lower Lakes, as well as the draft Sefton report on the socio-economic impacts of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, have all highlighted the way in which industry and communities have been impacted by the implementation of the Basin Plan. These reports have shown that quick and easy solutions will only hurt the system and its users.

Dr webster said the the purpose of the teleconference with Minister Pitt was to allow him to hear first-hand from growers, industries and communities that rely on a healthy river system for their survival.

“Participants included growers and farmers from along the river, peak bodies including Citrus Australia, Australian Table Grape Association, United Dairy Farmers Victoria, Murray Valley Winegrowers, Boundary Bend Estate, the Almond Board of Australia, Murray Darling Wetlands, and others,” she said.

“Each had an opportunity to express to the Minister how vital action is to our future and to ask questions. After the meeting I had a further discussion with Minister Pitt. He communicated that he had found the meeting very valuable, giving him a better understanding of the issues growers and users see as a priority.

“The main issues discussed were the impact that water trading and speculation in the temporary water market is having on growers, as well as the significant deliverability challenges placed on the system at the Barmah Choke. It was agreed that an engineering solution needs to be found to solve issues with the Choke to allow water to be delivered efficiently to users upstream, and to reduce the significant environmental impacts that high flows are having on this part of the system.”