September 21st, 2009 at 02:55am
Re: your recent story about Murray-Darling communities suffering due to water buybacks…it's great to see the national media taking an interest in the story at long last. Communities in the Murray-Darling region have been complaining about this for a long time without getting much coverage.
I was in Deniliquin recently working as a journalist for radio 2QN and a couple stories from my fortnight there are related. Firstly, you mentioned areas which are heavily reliant on agriculture. Conargo shire, near Deniliquin, has the highest concentration of employment in a single industry in the country according to a recent Bankwest study, with 81.4 per cent of people in the area employed in agriculture, far exceeding the next highest concentration which is 31% in Holroyd, Sydney, working in manufacturing. The same study found that the Goulburn Ovens Murray region is one of the hardest hit by the financial crisis, with employment levels dropping by ten percent since November 2007. The study is available from http://www.bankwest.com.au/library/scripts/objectifyMedia.aspx?file=pdf/53/98.pdf&str_title=Employment%20Growth%20Corridors%20Report.pdf
Also during my recent fortnight there, Penny Wong had a publicity stunt of a flying visit to the region, in which she spoke to almost nobody and avoided answering media questions, preferring to waffle on about her peculiar announcements. Dr. Sharman Stone MP, Federal member for Murray, made a very interesting statement to me about how farmers need better policies than the whole "waving dollars in front of desperate farmers" water buyback scheme. I have the audio of her statement around here somewhere, and I'll send it through to you shortly.
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