Campaspe takes key advocacy priorities to Canberra

Published on 30 May 2023

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Campaspe Shire Mayor Cr Rob Amos last week met with various Australian Government ministers and their senior advisors, both as part of a Murray River Group of Councils (MRGC) contingent and also representing Campaspe Shire Council, to advance several key advocacy issues of importance to the shire and region.

The MRGC representatives met with the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water, to convey their concerns about the broad-ranging negative impacts to northern Victoria of implementing the Murray Basin Plan and Water Buy-Backs program. They also raised concerns about the cost of living, affordable housing and energy with other relevant ministers and advisors.

As a result of Council’s insights and learnings from the October 2022 flood response, the Mayor met with the Chief of Staff of the Hon Bill Shorten MP, Minister for NDIS about the need to improve standards, messaging and resourcing for the care of vulnerable people during times of emergency and natural disaster.

“Campaspe Council takes a strong advocacy stance on issues that matter to our community, our region and our nation,” Cr Amos said.

“By raising these issues face-to-face with the federal government, we aim to build understanding between levels of government, and pave the way for continued fruitful discussions and debate that lead to policy reform and more investment in critical areas that will make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

Murray Basin Plan and Water Buy-Backs

“Water is the lifeblood of our region, supporting our people, our environment and our economy,” Cr Amos said.

“The Basin Plan and proposed Buy Backs of water would have devastating impacts on our industries, jobs, economies and communities more broadly.

“There are many economic studies that demonstrate the likely effect of future water recovery on water price and availability and the flow on impact of these on the various industries in our region. Essentially, they all predict that allocation prices would be consistently higher and there would be less water available.

“Buy-Backs divide and damage our communities. They increase the cost of water for irrigators, pushing up input costs that inevitably put upwards pressure on food price. Last time, they cost our region 1600 jobs, helped close a milk factory (105 jobs) and increased farming risk across our region. There are better ways, that don’t cost billions of dollars, to achieve the planned environmental outcomes.

“The MRGC supports the balanced implementation of the Basin Plan and we urged Minister Plibersek not to inflict further harm on our flood-affected communities across northern Victoria.

“Unfortunately, Minister Plibersek remained firm on implementing the Basin Plan as it stands. As a group of northern Victorian councils we remain united and will continue to lobby the minister to make the right decision and halt these plans to avoid disastrous impacts on our primary producers and flow-on effects to consumers.” 

Care of Vulnerable People in Times of Emergency and Natural Disaster

“Our experience during the October 2022 flood has highlighted several issues of concern in the care of vulnerable people,” Cr Amos said.

“For instance, the evacuation and temporary accommodation of vulnerable people, such as those with disability, is an issue that needs attention. Most often, relief centres are not appropriate or compliant to meet the often-complex needs of these vulnerable people.

“The discussions with Minister Shorten’s advisors were positive, and they gave an undertaking to raise our issues directly with Minister Shorten and also with Senator the Hon Murray Watt, Minister for Emergency Services.”

As part of its advocacy, Council is calling on the Australian Government to:

  • provide a national proactive plan to deliver consistent and tailored support and services to vulnerable groups during natural disasters and emergencies.
  • put policies and procedures in place to improve the coordination and delivery of messaging
  • invest more in training, supports and resources to build the capacity of frontline agencies.

“We have emphasised to the government that by more effectively addressing the needs of vulnerable people in times of disaster, we can save lives, reduce costs, improve wellbeing outcomes and build more resilient communities,” he said.

While in Canberra, the Mayor, along with the MRGC, also met with the Deputy Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

“Following on from the recent NEMA forum Council hosted where we highlighted concerns about red tape and blockages accessing government flood recovery funding, I’m pleased to say that our discussions with the Deputy Coordinator were very positive and steps are already in train to improve funding systems and processes,” he said.

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