Irrigators demand Littleproud "Can the Plan"

Protesting irrigators reach front door of Parliament


Irrigators take protest against Basin Plan to Canberra.


Thousands of irrigators campaigning for the Murray Darling Basin Plan to be canned, chanted at the front door of Parliament House in Canberra, demanding politicians listen to them.

A delegation of protesters were able to sit down with Minister for Water Resources, David Littleproud and Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley.

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The protesters, estimated to be around 3000 people and 200 trucks, adorned with Can the Plan, travelled hours to be there, most coming from Southern NSW and Northern Victoria where water allocations have been low to non-existent over the last two years.

Protesters chant outside the front door of parliament house

It was an escalation of previous protests, the movement gaining momentum over the last 12 months not only in numbers but in message.

In April, hundreds marched in Albury to 'Pause the Plan,' in September more than 3000 met on the banks of the Murray in Tocumwal to 'Fix the Plan' and now in December (though you wouldn't know it by the single figure temperatures) irrigators came to Canberra to ask to scrap the plan altogether.

A key spokesperson for the movement and Southern Riverina Irrigators chairman, Chris Brooks addressed the crowd earlier in the day saying this rally represented a "line in the sand."

"No more that's it," Mr Brooks said.

"We're here to make it clear to these people that they're not going to affect our water rights anymore."

The reaction to the message that a delegation was able to meet with Minister Littleproud

Co-organiser of the rally Carly Marriott, Barooga, said the rally's main aim, to be heard, had been achieved.

"The real win for us is sending our delegation in there to talk to Littleproud, to talk to Ley and they have to listen now, their back is against the wall because we are sitting on their doorstep, literally," Ms Marriott said.

"The energy and the morale, it's so good for people who have been feeling so hopeless to feel an element of hope from this rally.

"It's given everyone the shot in the arm they needed, because we've just had our second failed crop due to bad water policy, not because of drought."

For most irrigators in attendance the message was clear, "something has to change."

However, not everyone in the sector is in agreement that the plan being canned will lead to the best outcome.

NSW Farmers' issued a statement today saying that although they wish to fix the policy, funding and operational issues that were highlighted in the Five Year review of the Plan, 'Canning the Plan' is not the answer.

"Calls to 'Can the Plan' have the potential to put at risk the water property rights of farmers across the Basin and see more water removed from the consumptive pool," NSW Farmers chairman James Jackson stated.

Meanwhile, the National Irrigators' Council issued a press release stating 'Fix Don't Ditch the Basin Plan.'

No National or Liberal party members attended the rally but minority party and independent politicians showed up in droves, including One Nation's Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts, Shooters Farmers Fishers, Helen Dalton, independent, Bob Katter and Liberal Democrat Tim Quilty.

The rally will reconvene at 8am tomorrow for a march to the National Farmers' Federation.


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