"A story from Victoria which is causing outrage amongst the farming community in this area: The Shepparton area has a state government water authority which allocates water for irrigation. It supplies water for diary farms and fruit orchards.
The water is quite expensive and many farmers go into big debt to purchase the water rights. This year, very early into the irrigation season, the authority informed the farmers, after they had paid for their water, that there would be no more water of their allocation supplied. When the farmers asked for reimbursement for the unused water portion, they were told that they would not be receiving any reimbursement.
As a result the suicide rate amongst men in this region has greatly increased. One farmer took his milking cows to market, and was offered a pittance, so he refused the sale, brought all his cows home, shot the cattle, and then himself.
The Victorian Government representative said that the money is being used to maintain the infrastructure of the irrigation system. Is this legal? To me it seems immoral that a one can pay for something and then not have the commodity delivered, nor get a refund, and for a government body to do this!"
There is very little mention of this story in the media or on the net but the following is some background from last October. The problem has obviously got a lot worse since that time:
The Nationals candidate for Rodney, Paul Weller, has commended the region's farming and business community for presenting a strong and united front at today's Northern Victorian Irrigators rally in Shepparton. Mr Weller was one of thousands of farmers to attend rally which he said sent a powerful message to the State Government that irrigators should not have to pay for water they did not receive.
"The Nationals went to the last election with a policy for state government to compensate water authorities for lost revenue," he said. "If this had been implemented, farmers would not have been forced to leave their businesses to attend today's rally." Mr Weller said during the past four years The Nationals had repeatedly called on the Government to compensate rural water authorities for water not allocated. He criticised the government for failing to heed those calls. "Hopefully through today's strong show of support they will start listening and respond. "The government has a huge Budget surplus and if they invested part of that surplus in rural and regional Victoria it would provide simple and effective drought support."
Mr Weller said one of the ongoing complaints raised again at the rally was the issue of water being traded out of the Goulburn Murray region, eroding the region's assets. "The Nationals have been calling for a moratorium on water trading from the region until a social and environmental impact study has been completed," he said. "This will enable the full understanding of the impacts of any water movement." "I look forward to a positive response from the State Government. With the first water payment just made and another one looming, a decision on relieving irrigators from paying for water they don't receive needs to be made immediately."
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