Murray Darling Association welcomes back 'prodigal son' Wagga City Council

Murray Darling Association welcomes back Wagga City Council after three year haitus


Wagga council will be regularly attending MDA meetings for the first time in three years


The Murray Darling Association has welcomed back its "prodigal son" Wagga City Council, which will be returning to the table after three years of hiatus.

Wagga council will be electing a representative to replace Councillor Paul Funnell, who had attended almost no meetings during that three year period.

MDA CEO Emma Bradbury said Wagga was an important player in the region, which is why she looked forward to having Wagga council back and attending their meetings on a regular basis.

"The absence of any council provides something of a vacuum for that community, so we absolutely welcome the re-engagement of Wagga at the table in region 9," Ms Bradbury said.

"We have a very long and valuable relationship with Wagga City Council, and we look forward to that continuing."

She pushed back at Cr Funnell's comments that the MDA was full of "lefty lovies" who put environmentalism ahead of farmers, saying that the association had been working for years to strike a sensible balance.

"One of our core principals is balance; there is no competition between the priorities of water use between environment and productivity," Ms Bradbury said.

"The reality is that without sustainable ecology we compromise our agriculture productivity, so the two are always interrelated."

Wagga mayor Greg Conkey said he would happily put up his hand to be the new representative in Cr Funnell's place, saying it was essential the region have some form of representation.

"It's vital we are members of the Murray Darling Association; it's the peak local government body and we need to be at that table," Cr Conkey said.

"It's disappointing we haven't been at that table for three years; it's cost us $21,000 [in membership fees] and we haven't had that voice."

He said advocacy surrounding water trading would be top of his priority list, saying foreign ownership and the open market had led to unreasonably high water prices for the region's farmers.

Wagga council has also thrown its support behind a royal commission into the Murray Darling Basin Plan, which puts it at odds with some members of the MDA.

Ms Bradbury said Wagga council was entitled to that position, however she said in her view a royal commission was unnecessary in light of all the other inquiries and reviews of the plan.

She pointed to the five-year productivity review, the Murray Darling Basin Authority socioeconomic assessment, and the scientific inquiry into the lower lakes, saying they all made a strong case for changing the MDBP.

"We're optimistic that with such a strong alignment of feedback that governments have very clear direction on how they can move forward and get the best outcome for our communities that are relying on water," Ms Bradbury said.

"A better investment of our time would be to implement those recommendations rather than call for another review [or royal commission]."

The story Murray Darling Association welcomes back 'prodigal son' Wagga City Council first appeared on The Daily Advertiser.


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