Organisers of the "Can the Plan" rally say Minister of Water Resources, David Littleproud has committed to seek agreement from the Ministerial Council to investigate the impact of changing distribution of inflows in the Southern Basin.
- Protesting irrigators reach front door of parliament
- Live #Cantheplan rally - Farmers March on Canberra
Southern Riverina Irrigators leaders, Chris Brooks and Darcy Hare met with the Minister as part of a delegation of protesters yesterday.
Mr Brooks and Mr Hare said the Minister had committed to seek agreement from the Ministerial Council on December 17 to provide appropriate powers to the Interim Inspector-General Murray-Darling Basin Water Resources (IIG), Mick Keelty, to immediately investigate the impact of the changing distribution of inflows to the Southern Basin, on State shares under the Murray Darling Basin Agreement.
The investigation will also consider any consequential impacts on state shares resulting from reserves required under the Agreement, including how these interact with State allocation policies.
The IIG is to report back to the Minister by March 31 2020.
The Minister will seek additional resources from the Prime Minister to support the IIG investigation should that be required.
Mr Brooks said although the Minister's commitment was a win for protesters, it would only make an impact if the state and federal government's agreed to give power to the IIG.
"For the first time that I've been involved in this water debate it's been really positive, I really appreciate the effort from the thousands of people who have come up here, the trucks that took time out of their busy harvest schedule to bring the message," Mr Brooks said.
"The message I would say for these people to take home is you're going to have a future.
"It is a complex situation, this whole water policy, it's not even possible for the Federal Water Minister to give me a lolly to take back to these people in the form of a bucket of water.
"But they've given me the confidence that they accept what we're saying is right and they've thrown the resources at identifying that and making some change.
"I look forward to working with Mick Keelty to identify the issues, that he can report back to Minister Littleproud by the end of March 2020, and that's a short period for us to tolerate by comparison to the belting we've had since 2012."
Mr Littleproud said he respected the protesters.
"They are passionate and they're doing it tough," Mr Littleproud said.
"We will continue to support irrigators and all farmers during the drought and continue to step up our support as the drought steps up."
Michael McCormack fronts the protesters
This morning Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack spoke to protesters saying after the meeting yesterday they will work towards getting a better outcome, but expressed his belief that scrapping the plan isn't the answer.
"I appreciate you'll go away still feeling angry, still feeling hurt," Mr McCormack said.
"Certainly we hope it rains, but if we put the plan back through the senate, unfortunately with the senate we have now, you may end up in a worse outcome then you're in now."
Rally organiser, John Lolicato addressed Mr McCormack after he spoke saying he can't keep using drought as an excuse.
"We're like fish out of water coming here, protesting, but I hope the message has got through to you once and for all that things have got to change," Mr Lolicato said.
"You can't keep saying it's a drought, we're farmers, we know it's a drought, but what you guys are doing with the basin plan is exacerbating the drought."
Can the Plan marches to the NFF headquarters
The Can the Plan rally marched from Parliament House to the National Farmers' Federation headquarters, chanting "NFF, Not For Farmers," as they went.
Co-organiser of the rally Carly Marriott said protesters saw through the NFF releasing a media release on Sunday evening saying they would lobby to fix the plan.
"Up until now you haven't done anything for us, you've failed to acknowledge that the basin plan was flawed," Ms Marriott said.
"As this rally descended on Canberra you've come out with a release saying you're going to support the fixing of the plan, if that is the case then stick to your word do something.
"We're going up there now to work out what that's going to look like and if you are a National Farmers' Federation and not a Northern NSW Farmers Federation, then do something."
Once the rally reached the NFF headquarters, Chief Executive Officer, Tony Mahar came out to invite a delegation in for discussions.
When they returned Mr Mahar attempted to assure protesters that they too wanted to see change.
"We've agreed to make sure Mick Keelty has the power to take the action that's needed, we all know there's action needed," Mr Mahar said.
"The NFF is committed to making that happen."