Water spat on eve of Murray Darling plan

A spat has erupted between the Victorian government and the Murray Darling Basin Authority just weeks out from the release of the much anticipated draft Basin Plan.

Victoria’s Water Minister Peter Ryan has claimed that only closed-door meetings will be held once the draft is released, either later this month or early August.

“I have been advised that two-day consultation sessions are being planned on an invitation-only basis,” said Mr Ryan.

“Craig Knowles’ refusal to front up to open community meetings is clearly aimed at controlling any adverse community reaction following the release of the plan.”

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But Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) chairman, Craig Knowles, hit back.

“I’ll be fronting up many times during the course of the plan’s release and I’m looking forward to doing so,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the MDBA said consultation after the draft’s release could take many forms.

“We’re looking at a mix of options, including open meetings,” she said.

“This is based on the feedback we’ve received from individuals, community groups and stakeholders.”

Craig Knowles ... says he'll be at community meetings.

Violent scenes erupted during a New South Wales consultation meeting in October last year, following the release of the guide to the draft Basin Plan.

Farmers burned copies of the guide and objects were hurled on the stage at then MDBA chair Mike Taylor.

Victoria has also named its regional Basin advisory group which held its first meeting at Echuca yesterday.

It is chaired by Nationals member for Rodney Paul Weller.

Who’s on the advisory panel?

  • Chair: Paul Weller
  • Community: Diane Bowles (Mead), Robert Danieli (Kyabram), Maria Reidl (Mildura), Emelia Sudholz (Riverside), Guy Duncan (Leitchville) and Rosemary Reilly (Albury-Wodonga)
  • Irrigators/water services committees: Eril Rathjen (Rochester WSC), Margot Henty (Torrumbarry WSC), Ross Crawford (Central Goulburn WSC), a representative yet to be named (Loddon WSC), Barry Croke (Murray Valley WSC), Jamie Craig (Shepparton WSC), Morris Brown (Goulburn-Broken Regional WSC), Alan Rothaker (Loddon Campaspe Regional WSC), Peter Serpell (Kiewa, Mitta Mitta and Upper Murray WSC), Malcolm Carson (Ovens,King, Mid-Murray WSC) and Andrew Young (Lower Murray Water Customer Service AdvisoryCommittees)
  • Industry: Richard Anderson (Victorian Farmers Federation), John Wilson (Fruit Growers

    Association of Victoria), Tony Martin (Australian Dried Fruit Association), Natalie Akers (United Dairy Farmers), Robert Poole (Australian Dairy Industry Council) Paul Riordan (Olive & Almond Industry), Nick Muraca (Australian Table Grape Association), Mark McKenzie

    (Wine Grape Growers Australia), Kerry Murphy (Tafco) and Hugh Flett (Murray Valley Citrus Growers)

  • Local Government: Ed Cox (Murray River Group of Councils) and Anthony Griffiths (North East Local Government Network)
  • Indigenous community: Sandy Atkinson (Bangarang) and Sam Morgan (Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations)
  • Environment: Juliet Le Feuvre (Environment Victoria) and Helen Reynolds (Goulburn Valley Environment Group)
  • Tourism: Dean Oberin (Echuca)

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