Extract from PEOPLE POWER TWO http://austeaparty.com.au/web/?page_id=1041
When irrigation farmers throughout the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) could not grow the crops they needed to support their families, because of years of drought and no allocations of water, they slowly sank into a feeling of despair.
They had for years been improving their irrigation and farming techniques to world’s best practice and many had borrowed to install the latest and most efficient irrigation equipment and lay-outs.
They had the land, the equipment, the resources and knowhow but no water.
They had also been involved in and agreed to extra costs as the water distribution agencies had upgraded and become more efficient in the water supply system.
Throughout these years of little or no income, most irrigators were also paying license and environmental fees to State Governments and yet receiving no water.
However what sent these resilient, hard working “Cockys” into real despair was when irrational and uninformed Environmentalists, Journalists and posturing Politicians began accusing them of being responsible for many wrongly assumed environmental problems in the MDB.
When it was claimed that over allocation was responsible for low river flows, farmers knew this was false but felt powerless to respond.
Likewise when it was claimed that irrigators were responsible for the fact that wetlands had dried out, they knew this was also false but lacked the means to respond effectively.
Everyone with any practical knowledge of this vast region of Australia was aware that it was only because of the actions of previous generations in investing in water conservation and irrigation that had increased the areas of permanent wetland and allowed the rivers to keep running.
Rather than being a threat to the environment, it was the irrigation industry that had improved the ecology for all native aquatic species.
Without the dams, weirs and irrigation infrastructure so pilloried by environmentalists, the whole system would have run dry with disastrous consequences for mankind and the environment.
But faced with a sensationalist driven media spruiking a pro environmentalist agenda, residents of the MDB felt powerless to stop the Federal Government, with the support of both sides of Politics, passing the Water Act setting up the new Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
An Authority given the power to acquire water and simply flush it down the system at a bureaucratic whim.
Despair and disgust were rampant.
But there were some who were acutely affected, that would not be shamed and were prepared to take action.
They were mostly wives of farmers, who for years had worked alongside husbands, raised families and often worked at an off-farm job and watched as husbands became too despondent to respond to the Greeny misinformation.
Just ordinary folk with extraordinary determination to not allow self serving Politicians to foster an all-powerful but misguided bureaucracy to destroy both their way of life and likely damage the environment as well.
Intelligent, articulate women decided to get involved, joined irrigator and community groups and began using the internet and modern communications to spread the word and demand some reasoned response from Politicians and Irrigator representatives.
They were women like Debbie Buller of Murrami, daughter of the late Neil Donaldson who was CEO of Ricegrowers Co-Op Mills, became a teacher and then married Stuart Buller a fourth generation rice grower.
When things got tough in the drought and the false claims were rampant, Debbie joined with other women and formed the Murrumbidgee Valley Food and Fibre Association (MVFFA).
Similar action was taken by Louise Burge in Deneliquin who had served at Executive level with NSW Farmer’s Association and was for four years Chairman of the Conservation & Resource Management Committee.
In the north of the Basin Jon-Maree Baker became Executive Officer of Namoi Water and began organizing to fight for truth in the water debate.
All of these women and the many who joined them, are passionate about the protection of the environment of the MDB, but were not prepared to remain idle while an ill informed bureaucracy set about destroying what had in many cases been exhaustingly achieved over three and four generations.
The results of their actions have been witnessed on the National news and in media across the country.
These resourceful women recognize that this has been only a first step in refuting a long campaign to misinform the Australian public on the vital topic of water and the MDB; it is only a start and these resilient women will continue this battle for truth.
They and their families know that on this issue, Politicians from both sides of politics got it wrong.
These determined women, who once the rains came in September, often spent hours on the tractor, then made a late dinner and only after that went about their other job of passion; correcting the false claims being made about their families business.
Such people still have the spirit and the integrity that made Australia great and have the welfare of the lands and rivers of the MDB deeply in their spirit.
People who will not accept despair when action is possible and needed.