Monday, October 01, 2007

the sugarloaf interconnector pipeline

the story so far: A report on Friday's activities at Toolangi.

After dismissive and insightful comments by Minister Holding after the Yea Wetlands meeting with concerned people opposed to the North-South Pipeline, he was again confronted in a peaceful manner, by more concerned people when he visited Toolangi (21/09/07) in the upper reaches of the Goulburn Valley.

It was ironic that the Minister was present to launch a Tourism Guide for the Murrindindi Region, when his actions as Water Minister will destroy some of the wonderful attributes the guide seeks to promote (Lake Eildon, Goulburn River, and the aesthetically pleasing Melba Highway drive).

With people becoming extremely stressed as representatives from Melbourne Water try to gain access to private property, tensions are rising and people wanted proper answers from the Minister for Water, Mr. Holding.

When questioned the Minister gave answers to the people that relied on the Government spin and rhetoric, which didn't stack up against the detailed questions put to him by those present.

The Minister was then asked to name the major agricultural product grown in this part of the Goulburn Valley in Toolangi. He was not able to answer; he had no knowledge of the agricultural crops his Government's actions were impacting on.

Toolangi is the home of a $100 million fresh strawberry industry. Around 80% of the nations strawberry runners, which are required to grow fresh strawberries, come from farms around Toolangi.

These farmers are stressed by lack of water and cannot understand how water can be stolen from the Goulburn Valley, when it is desperately needed to grow fresh produce for the people of Melbourne and beyond.

This incident may have been embarrassing to the Minister, but it clearly demonstrated to those present the city centric nature of the Labor Government.

Demonstrators confront Minister Holding in Toolangi

The Minister's exit was delayed as the concerned people were not happy as the Minister had not answered all their questions and they voted not to release his car from the carpark. This demonstrated the contrast with the Government dealing with a unelected, unrepresentative, and unaccountable group in Shepparton on the future of our water.

The Minister avoided answering further questions by walking out of the car park to another vehicle and was whisked away back to the safety of Melbourne.

The concerned people reminded him that everytime he visits the Goulburn Valley they will continue to hold him to account for his Government's bad and rushed water policy on the North-South Pipeline, that steals water from a stressed catchment, which puts the lives and livelihoods of Victorian people at risk and gains a undertaking from him or the Premier that his government will fulfill its pre-election commitment to not take water from North to South of the Great Dividing Range and to find other answers for Melbourne's water crisis.

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Words by Mike Dalmau (thanks Mike)

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