ANGER over proposed water cuts under has spilled over at Deniliquin, NSW, where hundreds of farmers were reportedly locked out of an information session on the Murray Darling Basin plan.
The small Murray town effectively shut down for the meeting to discuss the cuts which locals fear will gut the community.
Locals reported traffic jams up to a kilometre long trying to get to the meeting at the town’s RSL with no parking spots left within three blocks of the venue.
Several hundred people crammed into the auditorium but at least another 400 reportedly spilled over into bars and other public spaces in the club.
The massive turnout forced the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to add a third “mini briefing” to today’s two planned meetings at Deniliquin and has fuelled speculation crowds for tomorrow’s meeting in Griffith could be even bigger.
Attendees said anger was palpable at this morning’s meeting and reported an obvious security presence.
At least one irrigator vented his fury with the proposed cuts outside by burning a copy of the MDBA report.
Co-ordinator of Murray Group of Concerned Communities, Monica Morona, said the MDBA had allowed people to stand in the auditorium for this morning’s meeting only after repeated requests.
She said massive crowds had turned out despite the meeting coinciding with the peak time for rice sowing in the district.
"It was not a good time to be consulting us. There are a lot of very tired people in there".
Local dairy farmer, Malcom Holm, "Pyngama", between Finley and Blighty, said he was "pretty disappointed and annoyed" by the MDBA presentation.
"I was hoping to hear a bit about a basin plan," he said.
However they had only heard about a "water flow plan" with no reference to communities and food production, and as yet no environmental water plans.
The NSW Farmers Association said the lockouts made the public consultation process “a farce”.
“You can’t call this a community information session when only the first 1000 people to arrive are crammed inside,” said vice president, Fiona Simson.
“How does the MDBA expect to hear the concerns of thousands of others from behind a closed door?”
Mrs Simson if today’s turnout was any indication tomorrow’s meetings in Griffith would be huge.
“It’s imperative the MDBA ensure it can cater for an expected crowd of thousands,” she said.
“I’m urging everyone who can; to attend their nearest community information session, and not be deterred by today’s lock out!”
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