The Convoy to Canberra was a massive success with the Murray Darling Basin Plan and Murray Darling Basin Agreement set to be re-evaluated.
Hundreds of people gathered on the front doors of Old Parliament House in Canberra on Monday demanding a change in water policy, with some success.
The evaluation of the agreement is likely to happen if interim Inspector General of the Murray Darling Basin Water Resources Mick Keelty is given power on December 17 to conduct immediate investigations into water issues.
The rally turned enough heads for an agreement to be made between Mr Keelty and Minister for Water Resources David Littleproud, that if the former is appointed full-time Inspector General (he is currently interim IG) a report to re-evaluate the basin plan will be supported by the latter.
Mr Littleproud will seek an agreement from the Ministerial Council on December 17 to provide appropriate powers to Mr 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 share resulting from reserves required under the agreement, including how these interact with state allocation policies.
Rally co-organiser and Southern Riverina Irrigators deputy chair Darcy Hare said a committee will be formed to help Mr Keelty with the research of data and analysis of the MDBP and agreement.
“This all hinges on Mick (Keelty) being appointed on the 17th which I’m confident will happen,” he said.
“We will elect our own board of members that will help Mick with the report, and to his credit, Littleproud has made a huge undertaking to allocate additional resources to help this happen.”
With the impacts of the Basin Plan lingering for the last decade, rally organisers are eager for change to come to effect as soon as possible.
“We have set the date for the report to be finished ourselves; we think it’s important to get it done as soon as possible so it’ll be a quick three months,” Mr Hare said.
The convoy gained widespread media attention with a host of interviews by rally organisers leading to coverage of the issue in metropolitan newspapers, and on numerous radio and television stations.
Barooga’s Carly Marriott, one of the organisers, was interviewed by Sydney’s leading ‘shock jock’ Alan Jones who was backing the convoy and urged participants “not to take no for an answer.”
“Good luck and go for it. Go for the jugular and groin Carly!” the outspoken announcer exclaimed.
The rally convoy gathered in Yass on Monday morning, where there was a traffic jam of trucks, before proceeding to Canberra.
The rallying farmers and community members gathered at Old Parliament House, then marched to the new Parliament House to listen to a range of speakers, including politicians who support Basin Plan reform.
All politicians from every party were invited to stand with rally participants.
One of Finley’s local balers spent Monday on the front porch of Parliament House in Canberra as part of the ‘Can the Plan’ rally.
Russell Anderson was among hundreds of people who have been affected by the Murray Darling Basin Plan and gave up his time to contribute to the cause.
On top of going to Canberra with the convoy, he also took it upon himself to paint ‘Convoy to Canberra’ on bales and leave them on a trailer in full view of the passing traffic along Berrigan Rd.
“I felt like I needed to do my part, it’s important that everyone knows what’s happening around them so I painted on the bales for passing traffic to see,” Mr Anderson said.
“It was an easy decision to head to Canberra as part of the convoy; the basin plan has been a big issue in our region and it’s affecting families throughout the region, even those who aren’t directly in the farming industry.
“If there is a chance to show my support and to contribute to the cause you bet I’ll be there.”
Mr Anderson was impressed with the support for the Convoy to Canberra and noted how the crowd engaged in protesting right up to the front doors of parliament, staying in control and safe all the while.
“There were 100 trucks that went to Canberra, coming through Yass and then on the way into the city you could tell just how big the rally was,” he said.
“It’s incredible to think just how many people are willing to give their time and fight against the basin plan.
“Once we all reached the lawn of Parliament House the next stage was making them hear us so we took to the front doors, even though there were a lot of us, everyone remained as respectful to surrounding cars and foot traffic as possible; it speaks volumes to the character of everyone here.”
The next step according to Mr Anderson is for politicians to listen to how serious the issue is, pause and re-evaluate the plan.
“I’m hoping that in so many people taking to Canberra it will open the eyes of our politicians that we’re serious about change and understand just how many Australian families are being affected by the mismanagement of the plan.”