PEOPLE POWER  PART TWO!

Action is the antidote to despair.

How do you right the wrong when so much (above) seems stacked against you?

THIS IS HOW! Here we document briefly not just how to start one protest but a series of Protests in an eventual Nationwide  Campaign.

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 NOW due to rare circumstances no water.

The left however never lets a good crises no matter how temporary go to waste. Never let the FACTS get in the way of a good narrative.

Fact: 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.

Permanent man-made wetlands that meander for miles across the otherwise dry Riverina plains.

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.

Angry Irrigator, but in fact the more irrigation the MORE frogs.

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. Who were they?? Well there are too many to mention them all, but here are a few Key examples:

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.

.Debbie Buller on Murrami Rice Farm.

Debbie decided to fight back!

Her method?

1. Contact those people who may be similarly affected by industry and community groups that she already belonged to or knew of or  in her area.

2. Form a new organisation with membership drawn from the positive responses from all of those groups.

3. Get likeminded people to do the same contact any organisations they knew of and try to get them to join this new one ,and repeat!

It helped create new friendships and strengthen old ones.

as one letter stated about Debbies’ involvement:

“I feel very very privileged and honoured to be working with such women in our group MVFFA. A majority of our women are on tractors etc.

Born out of necessity, frustration, many tears, arguments and lack of knowledge and so on

Thanks for showing the recognition that Deb deserves. We have not been whingeing about how do we pay to go to all these meetings and how many person hours it takes out of our lives eg MI and other long formed groups.

Deb has been running on her own funding as well as our small committee helping in some small way.

Our adult children have also been assisting with their knowledge of publicity and IT.

So Go Deb and go Ron and all like you we will get there with people power

It feels like a very long weary road we are travelling maybe we will have a small win soon with Allen Jones on our side

Thank you xxxxxxx”

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.

Louise Burge with helpers on Family Property near Deniliquin

Louises approach?

Well first ,obviously use her pre-existing and  established network of contacts and associations. But she didn’t  stop there she also:

1.Contacted friends and extended family as well as

2. Contact and organise any regional ,social or community groups as all were or would be affected.

3. Use new media/facebook/emails to spread the word. and:

4. Contact media / letters to the local papers/ local protests for local TV  at first ….then expand the campaign as more people get involved /Join.

These sound like classic TEA PARTY approaches and of course THEY WORKED!

But first you have to start. Often starting small leads to much bigger things.

In the north of the Basin Jon-Maree Baker became Executive Officer of Namoi Water and also began organizing to fight for truth in the water debate.

There seemed to be a fortuitous assembling of women gradually rising up to finally meet the challenge from many quarters , these mentioned are but a few examples.

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.

Protest Results?  Various protests were organised to protest the injustice of the MDB Situation for example:.

Protest Bonfire out front of the Yoogali  Centre widely reported in the print and TV news.

another protest in the Riverina one of a series of 3. That gained National attention.

and at Echuca in Nth Victoria

Finally Large meetings were called

in the Riverina at Mildura – the Mildura Sports Pavillion

and lastly the widely publicised nationally significant Protest /Rally /Meeting at Griffith NSW.

Yoogali Club fiunction centre griffith 5000 people

where there was headline national TV and Press Coverage.

From little acorns mighty Oaks Do Grow!

All it really takes is a decision to start and determination. These are not professional politicians…Just ordinary people, OK strong and resourceful but that about sums up many women from the land. No?

These resourceful women of course 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.

They 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.

While one determined and supremely confident Women is opposed …many others are determined to fight!

The results of what followed have been witnessed on the National news and in media across the country.

While this has been a first step in refuting a long campaign to misinform the Australian public on this most important topic; it is a start.

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 that which was false.

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 reasoned.

PEOPLE POWER IN ACTION.

our humble citizen Journalists

Pikey and the editor