Regional irrigators calling for Royal Commission on basin plan

NEW PLEA:  Southern Riverina Irrigators vice chair Darcy Hare and chair Chris Brooks outside Parliament House.
NEW PLEA: Southern Riverina Irrigators vice chair Darcy Hare and chair Chris Brooks outside Parliament House.

A regional irrigators group is calling for a Royal Commission into the controversial Murray Darling Basin Plan.

The push by Southern Riverina Irrigators comes at the same time as reports of a fish kill on Lake Hume.

According to the Department of Primary Industries in NSW, about 60 dead carp were located in the water near Bowna Arm boat ramp.

Initial reports had suggested there were up to 1800 dead fish.

A cause of the fish kill has not yet been determined, however there are no algal or dissolved oxygen issues noticeable. Fishing mortality is one potential cause, a DPI spokesperson said.

DPI staff will prepare a report to pass onto Victorian authorities, which manage all fisheries in Lake Hume. 

The ongoing drought conditions across western NSW have resulted in fish kills in a number of waterways recently.

The Lake Hume incidents comes just a week after hundreds of thousands of fish died during an algal bloom in the Darling River at Menindee.

With drought conditions expected to continue over the coming months it is likely more fish kills will occur without significant rainfall to generate replenishment flows, according to the DPI.

The drought’s impact is also just one concern for irrigators, who have taken there concerns about the Murray Darling Basin Plan to Canberra.

A delegation of southern Riverina people representing businesses and advocacy groups Voices4Farrer, SRI and the Murray Regional Strategy Group, met with Federal Minister for Water David Littleproud’s advisor and opposition spokesman for the environment and water Tony Burke’s chief of staff to voice the request.

SRI chairman Chris Brooks, who represents 1800 irrigators in the southern Riverina, said the collective demanded a Royal Commission to review and redraft a more workable, fair and reasonable Murray Darling Basin Plan. 

“We simply need the Basin Plan to be more acceptable to all parties within the basin – for irrigators, environmentalists and the indigenous,” Mr Brooks said.

Mr Brooks said a Royal Commission would provide a suitable platform for interested groups to “lay all issues out on the table once and for all”.

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