Basin Plan protesters will continue to target Littleproud

Water Minister David Littleproud in a nectarine crop at Swan Hill.
Water Minister David Littleproud in a nectarine crop at Swan Hill.

A LOOSE collective of farmer irrigators from across the southern Murray Darling Basin have vowed to continue to pour the pressure on in a bid to meet with Federal water minister David Littleproud to outline the problems with the Basin plan.

Protesters gathered outside a Swan Hill district fish farm earlier this week in a bid to surprise the Minister during his late afternoon visit to the facility.

The confrontation never eventuated.

Mr Littleproud has said he was not aware the protesters were there, and the planned tour of the fish farm was abandoned when his itinerary ran short of time.

However the group believe they were deliberately avoided, saying the water minister's tour did not involve meeting with key farmer stakeholders.

Mr Littleproud met with some of the protesters later that night at a club in Swan Hill.

Further protests are planned at Tocumwal, in the southern Riverina, on Thursday to highlight what the organisers say are massive inequities within the Murray Darling Basin Plan as it currently stands.

One of the protesters is Lindsay Schultz, who farms on the Murray at Benjeroop, between Swan Hill and Barham.

He said the current Federal government was not interested in family farming in the MDB and said it had a poor record in terms of community consultation compared to Lisa Neville and Melinda Pavey, the water ministers for Victoria and NSW respectively.

"We might not always like what they have to say but they are prepared to listen, which we can't say about the Federal government," Mr Schultz said.

"The Federal government is acting like it would prefer all farming to be in the hands of corporates or superannuation funds."

For his part Mr Littleproud copped the comments on the chin.

"I know I'm not popular but that is part and parcel of leading. Sometimes that's the burden of it, but you take it on the chin and keep swinging," he said.

He warned the protesters, who had been rumoured to have brought a prop noose to the Swan Hill demonstration, to be respectful when bringing forth their opinions.

"It's a great thing that people can actually protest in this country, but when you have that right to protest it comes with a responsibility and I say to people when you want to express you view do it in a respectful way."

He denied he was ignoring southern basin farmers.

"I am happy to sit down and listen in fact a lot of those people were in Deniliquin when I was there last year, and I went out and shook their hand."

Mr Schultz said protesters were looking to get the Basin Plan paused and set up correctly.

"There are things that need to be included such as the water market, which now is more about making water traders big profits than producing high quality Australian food.

"I am 64 years old and I could sell my water tomorrow and wouldn't live long enough to spend it but that is not what it is about, I've three grandchildren I feel I owe the opportunity to eat good Australian food."

"Instead of pumping up his own tyres and telling us what a good job he is doing I'd urge Mr Littleproud to instead get out and find what people think is wrong with the plan."

"I have been involved with the plan over its seven years, there's been so many reviews and meetings, and we keep telling them we have the answers but they refuse to listen."

High on Mr Schultz's priority list would be a revision of the need for water for the terminal lakes in South Australia.

"The plan is set up on a lie regarding the lakes, that is one thing we have scientific evidence of that they were salty beforehand, yet it is not being discussed."

This story Basin Plan protesters will continue to target Littleproud first appeared on The Land.