Forgotten people

A SAMI media release….


June 26, 2008


Producers urged to make informed decisions early


South Australian river communities are being left to fend for themselves and should make plans that do not rely on government intervention.

That is the message from the leader of the State’s peak irrigation body, the South Australian Murray Irrigators.

SAMI chairman Tim Whetstone delivered the message today as his members are about to enter the new irrigation season on Sunday with a two percent allocation.

“Are we any better off than those tribes that were found deep in the Amazonian jungle the other day. We’ve become the forgotten people of this State.

“We have devoted countless hours to meetings, workshops, seminars and travelling across the nation to talk to State and Federal politicians and it is our belief that Govenments are not going to be our saviour.

“Business people in our river communities need to acknowledge that and collect as much meaningful data as possible and act on it.

“Producers need to make plans early and save what water they can.”

Mr Whetstone said irrigators needed access to regular and independent information on the projections of water available within the Murray Darling Basin to make such decisions.

He hopes the State Government to honour a recent undertaking to establish a new website that will give irrigators direct access to consistently updated water projections for SA.

“This type of information is already provided to NSW irrigators, so we expect the same service,” he said.

“We don’t want a repeat of last year where we are hanging on Ministerial announcements about allocations. They almost always sparked a dramatic increase in water prices.”

Mr Whetstone said a lot irrigators had been forced to buy water last December when prices jumped to well over $1000 megalitre after the Government announced that irrigation allocations would not go above 16%. A few weeks later allocations had increased to 32% and water prices dropped.

Mr Whetstone said SAMI will continue to represent the communities it ultimately represents and provide innovative solutions to Government Ministers. Mr Whetstone will introduce guest speaker Wentworth Group member and Adelaide University water economist Professor Mike Young at the Riverland Rural Expo at the Renmark Hotel tomorrow.


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