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Simon Crean hears local concerns on MDBP in Narrabri

The Minister for Regional Australia, Simon Crean took on board local concerns at a meeting in Narrabri yesterday over the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s Draft Guide to the Proposed Basin Plan. In conjunction with Regional Development Australia – Northern Inland (RDANI), Minister Crean met with key stakeholders from a cross-section of local communities, industry, research, CMAs and Local Government bodies to hear first-hand the potential negative impacts of the proposed Basin Plan on local economies, communities and businesses.

“The Federal Government is committed to consulting and I have discussed water usage in the Murray Darling Basin in 8 centres already - from Dubbo in NSW to Murray Bridge in South Australia,” Minister Crean said.

“I have enjoyed visiting Narrabri and holding discussions with the Regional Development Australia Northern Inland committee and other key stakeholders to hear about local issues and local views.

In the two hour session, The Minister heard views from irrigators, CMAs, farmers, business owners, Local Councils and others ranging from flaws in the science and modeling, to adverse effects on local economies communities and jobs. He challenged the region to develop an environmental, business and social plan in response to the Proposed Basin Plan. Minister Crean said the region should demonstrate how it will respond to a future with reduced water.

RDANI Chairman Mal Peters said his organisation will accept the challenge and will build on the excellent work already done by groups such as the Namoi Water Working Group and establish a similar group in the northern part of the region.

“Our region has significant scientific capacity with Namoi and Border Rivers Gwydir CMAs, the Cotton CRC and the University of New England. Together with other peak bodies, we will develop a regional approach that will ensure we have a healthy river system. The aim will be to protect important environmental assets without affecting our business and social capacity,” Mr Peters said.

“The project will require significant resources and I am confident that when completed, it will be the instrument the Government will utilise to decide how water resources are used in the region. Rather than wait for Governments to provide the answers, we will provide the Government with how our region will respond to sustainable water use using the best science available today.

“Minister Crean has offered this region a great opportunity to demonstrate our capacity to solve our own problems in a responsible manner and RDANI intends making sure the process becomes a significant opportunity to grow our region rather than allow it to be a negative,” Mr Peters said.

The RDANI area takes in 13 local Government areas in Northern Inland NSW. RDANI is a partnership between Australian, NSW State, and local governments. Our committee is made up of local leaders who volunteer their time to work with government, business and community groups to deliver better services to our region.

Media Contact: Mal Peters Ph: 0400 072558.

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