Highlighting the problem; now part of the prediction
August 13, 2019
Blighty dairy farmer Lachlan Marshall has been doing everything in his power to warn governments about the disaster unfolding in his region.
He could see fellow dairy farmers walking off their land in despair, or being forced to sell the herd they loved, which had provided the family’s livelihood.
He even met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison before the election and thought if, on the rough chance the PM was re-elected, he may step in and try to help.
But Mr Marshall now feels the efforts have been in vain and politicians, including the PM, do not care about his family or other farmers in the Southern Riverina.
For many months Mr Marshall has known that without Government action there would always be uncertainty on the dairy farm.
The stark reality of the situation hit home last week when the painful decision to start a partial herd dispersal process was made. The first stage of this dispersal will take place at Shepparton selling centre on August 22.
This has occurred because NSW Murray irrigators remain on zero allocation, so there is no water under their licence to grow feed for the cows. The only option is to buy temporary water, and over last summer the Marshall family business spent more than $1 million buying water to keep the herd fed. Now, as we enter a new season, the zero allocation is continuing, with no predictions of this changing – despite calls for Governments to step in and avoid what has been termed a ‘human crisis’.
Potential solutions have been suggested, to no avail.
“Four generations of my family have bred these incredible cows; hopefully someone else will be able to enjoy watching them do what they have been bred to do.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to make Governments aware of the crisis, despite our best efforts. It’s devastating for our family and employees to be treated this way.
“The greatest tragedy is that is has all been avoidable, yet no-one wants to help.
“Don’t even get me started on Sussan Ley (federal Member for Farrer); all we heard during the election campaign was how much she cares about water, but once she was re-elected we’ve heard nothing, and she’s done nothing,” Mr Marshall said.
Just before the election date was announced Mr Marshall was part of a delegation that met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“Even my 11 year-old daughter wrote a letter begging Mr Morrison to show leadership and help our region, which I hand delivered to him. I guess she’s like the rest of us; we don’t matter to the PM now he’s safely back in his job.”
Mr Marshall said he could not explain the frustration at the lack of support for this region from politicians.
“(Water Minister) David Littleproud has his precious Basin Plan which he wants implemented without political bunfights; I suspect he sees it as a giant tick for his career prospects.
“It appears we have politicians who are prepared to sacrifice our region for their political careers. If that was not the case they would be here talking to us and finding the solutions we need.
“Since the election we haven’t seen Littleproud, it’s all too hard for Sussan Ley and the Prime Minister is no longer interested. It is frustrating beyond words,” Mr Marshall said.
He is also disappointed with peak farmer bodies who continue to support the Basin Plan, even though it is devastating for some rural communities.
“I don’t believe it is acceptable in Australia to sacrifice a group of members, rather than fighting for their interests?
“Mr Littleproud says the Basin Plan is ‘the best we’ve got’. That’s rubbish. It’s a disaster and it needs to be called out. If politicians decided to use our water efficiently, instead of wasting huge quantities through unnecessary flooding, evaporation and pouring it out to sea, our problems would be solved.
“I doubt that is going to happen in the next week, so our cows will go to the sale. It looks like we could be the next in line to be put out of business by politicians who don’t care. The tragedy is, we won’t be the last.”
For further information or interviews: Lachlan Marshall phone 0419 667 053