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22/05/2009

NSW trip for irrigation answers

The Murray Pioneer, Tuesday 19 May

The State Liberals will take the plight of South Australian irrigators to a number of New South Wales irrigation districts this week.

Shadow River Murray minister Adrian Pederick and Shadow Environment and Conservation minister Mitch Williams will lead the tour. They will be accompanied by Liberal candidate for Chaffey Tim Whetstone.

Mr Pederick said that many of the irrigators in the districts the group will be visiting are enjoying water allocations of up to 95%, whereas Riverland irrigators were struggling with just 18% of their allocations.

“The drought is affecting everyone basin-wide but South Australian irrigators really are getting the raw end of the deal,” he said.

“Mitch, Tim and I are heading to New South Wales so we can get a better understanding of how decisions made by Mike Rann and his federal colleagues are impacting on irrigators all over the basin.

“This fact-finding mission will take us right up in the Snowy Mountains above the Dartmouth and Hume Dams so we can see for ourselves how much water is there.

“The Liberals are determined to fight for equality for South Australian irrigators and to do this we need to see how things are being done in other states.”

Whetstone said he was aiming to represent the Riverland irrigators after the next State Election so it was important to talk to irrigators from other basin states.

“I have seen first hand the devastation wreaked by record low water allocations and what it has done to producers in the Riverland as well as the local communities,” he said.

“I hope by accompanying Mitch and Adrian on this fact-finding tour to New South Wales we can continue to lobby for greater equality for South Australian irrigators.”

Williams said the Lower Lakes were being hung out to dry by other states and it was time to get their side of the story.

“If the COAG agreement signed by Mike Rann in July last year was supposed to end the state warfare over the River Murray why are we now heading to the High Court to remove Victoria's 4% cap on water trades?” he said.

“It just shows Mike Rann has no understanding of how the Murray system works.”

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