Melinda in Menindee – Water Minister to Host Weekend BBQ
News has reached my office that NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey will be hosting a BBQ in Menindee this weekend. Now Melinda hasn’t invited me to her BBQ, I’m sure it will be a lovely day for them alongside the now full Lakes. We recently heard Minister Pavey say it was because of the hard work of the NSW Liberal-National Government that has ensured that water flowed down the system to Menindee to fill the Lakes.
I publicly put it here today to the Minister that the reason there is water in Menindee is one, because there has been a bucket load of rain and two, because the people of Menindee and the far west have called the Minister and the Liberal-National Government out on their poor water management record and have demanded change.
Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from any number of passionate people in Barwon about what I am doing in the water space. It is this contact that pushes me to keep going, to keep chipping away at the problem of water management. You won’t see me shouting in Parliament because my team and I are busy dismantling house of card arguments about why things need to be the way they are in the water space – headline for you they don’t, years of poor and lazy policy has created a convoluted system that is so far behind where it should be. The fact of the matter is there is much work to be done in this space and while the Minister continues to try and go it alone any work they do will never satisfy the needs of the community. The Water Minister cannot continue to pay lip service to experts both in lived experience and qualified experience.
Water policy is only complex if you choose to believe you know more than anybody else. I learnt that a long time ago. Bureaucrats and the Minister need to realise that sooner rather than later or else they’ll keep drawing the ire of the community.
As I said, I haven’t been invited to the weekend BBQ but here are some questions that I would put to the Minister over a cool beverage, and encourage anyone with an exclusive invite to ask.
- Where is the clear plan for Menindee that includes storage targets, what lakes are maintained as a minimum, how much water this is, and how the storage target will be maintained?
- Where is the release strategy for the Lakes that will protect native fish, environmental assets, community and is reflective of the advice in the Vertessey report?
- Where is the strategy to protect the Lower Darling?
- Where are the trigger points for anabranch flows that duplicate natural events?
- When will the 640/480 rule be modified to reflect the active water in the Lakes?
- When will an agreement be formalised to include local Aboriginal input on the future of the Lakes?
- When will the Toorale floodplain water and storages be dealt with in the Water Sharing Plan including subjecting the NSW Government to the same licencing and conditions of any other water holder in this State?
- When will the old Menindee weir be removed to the satisfaction of the community?
- Will the Minister publicise the impact positive or otherwise of recent changes to the Barwon Darling Unregulated River Water Sharing Plan to downstream waters security?
If things are getting a bit awkward and you get the feeling the Minister doesn’t want to answer your questions you could also say thank you for listening to the political pressure from Roy and the community and implementing active management, resumption of flow rules and Individual Daily Extraction Components – all changes that assist in seeing more water reach Menindee. There is more that needs to be done, but these three changes were positive.