30 November 2011
By JADE MARTIN
GRIFFITH residents yesterday rolled up in force to show just how badly the planned water cuts brought about by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan would affect their town.
Led by president of the Griffith Business Chamber Paul Pierotti, member for Riverina Michael McCormack, opposition spokesman for water Barnaby Joyce, Senator Fiona Nash and Senator Nigel Scullion made their way through town, stopping by the bakery, IGA Driver supermarket and Sleep Doctor, where they had the chance to catch up with business owners and residents brimming with fear and concern for their livelihoods.
Mr Pierotti, a business owner himself, said that the draft plan looked like a year 10 student's commerce assignment. Despite being promised last year that this draft of the plan would be more balanced, he said he was astonished with how it read.
He has dubbed the plan the 'X-factor', reflecting the unmarked and unspecified volumes of water that have not been represented in the plan's outcomes.
"They have spent billions of dollars, but they can't nail down those details," he said.
Mr Pierotti said that the government's decision to release the plan less than a week before parliament went on its break, right before Christmas, harvest and vintage, put extra pressure on farmers and residents to find the time to read through the draft and prepare a response.
"It is business and the community that have been badly done by," he said.
Janet and Morris Lane, second- generation owners of their family-run business Kendalls Shoes, met with Senator Joyce and Mr McCormack at the Sleep Doctor to express their concern for the region's future should the draft plan get the go-ahead.
Their business has been in operation since 1937 and they said it was important to ensure the town lived on to provide for the younger generations.
"This town will not go down without a fight," Ms Lane said.
Senator Fiona Nash expects residents to strongly support the series of community meetings set to begin this Sunday.
Ms Nash, who was amazed by the passion and intensity of last year's protests, said that the past 12 months will have done little to lessen the community's concern.
"The impact (the draft plan) is having here is environmental and that is what the government is not realising," she said.
"The government doesn't understand regional communities.
"It sounds like a blanket statement but it is true."
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