Prominent speakers at public forum

The impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on regional communities will be in the spotlight at a public forum in Moama next week.

Academics, business owners, researchers and community leaders from across three states will come together next Friday, April 13 for the open water forum, Uniting the Southern Basin.

It will include presentations and discussions on the social and economic impacts of the Basin Plan across the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Goulburn Valleys.

Also on the agenda will be issues such as ‘how do we deliver huge water volumes without significant flood damage?’, ‘the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth’, and ‘options for maximising environmental outcomes while limiting impacts on communities’.

The forum is being organised by the Speak Up Campaign, which is advocating for a more balanced Basin Plan.

One of the speakers will be South Australian investigative journalist Ken Jury, who says the current freshwater management of the Lower Lakes takes roughly $7.2 billion out of production for upstream communities.

Another South Australian, fisherman Graham Keegan, will talk about the impact on recreational fishing from ‘end of system’ changes which have destroyed Australia’s prime mulloway breeding grounds.

Upper Goulburn farmer Jan Beer will discuss the constraints issue, explaining why it is not possible to force the huge volumes of water proposed under the Basin Plan down the system without causing significant damage, and how an additional 450 gigalitres would risk leaving a wake of destruction.

Mrs Beer, a beef farmer who has lived and farmed along the Goulburn and Yea Rivers virtually all her life, represents the Upper Goulburn River Catchment Association, encompassing from Eildon Weir to Trawool.

Managing Director of De Bortoli Wines in Griffith, Darren De Bortoli, runs a company that has won international awards for sustainability. He has spent many years, since the draft Basin Plan was released, researching the ‘end of system’ to better understand why so much productive water has been removed from the Southern Basin and delivered downstream.

At the forum he will cover his extensive research into the history of water flow into the Coorong, its RAMSAR listing and the political environment of the Basin Plan.

Other speakers will include prominent wetland history expert Professor Peter Gell, renowned international environmental flows expert Dr John Conallin, plus a range of local government and state political representatives.

MC will be former National Irrigators Council CEO Tom Chesson.

The open water forum will be held on Friday April 13 at Moama Bowling Club. Registration is from 10.30am, with an 11am start.

For catering purposes it would be appreciated if your attendance could be registered via the Speak Up Campaign Facebook page, or email

The full forum agenda is expected to be released later this week.

For further information and interviews:

Ken Jury – email

Jan Beer – email

Darren De Bortoli – email

Tom Chesson – email

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