DAMNING statistics released recently paint a damning picture of the impacts of drought on regoinal economies.
The statistics reiterate the importance of productive water to regional communities and make a mockery of government instrumentalities that continue to downplay the impact.
The alarming statistics show that during the Millennium Drought, from 2001 to 2011, 40 per cent of the Deniliquin workforce was wiped out.
This represents more than 1000 people who lost their job.
Speak Up campaign spokesperson Shelley Scoullar said this dramatic effect on the community could not be ignored.
“These numbers are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and must surely ring alarm bells in the corridors of power.
“In the ABS test period 1077 jobs were lost in Deniliquin, with male employment falling 873, or nearly 40 per cent.
“In many cases, that is the family home’s major breadwinner out of a job.
“Governments must sit up, take notice and, even more importantly, take action,” Mrs Scoullar said.
She said they highlight the simple fact that water is the lifeblood of these rural communities and we must have water policy that ensures sufficient quantities are available at an affordable price for productive use.
“Too much water has been removed from productive use under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
“In the first decade of this millennium we were in drought.
“Since conditions improved we still have massive economic issues because governments have failed to get the right balance between use of water for environmental and productive purposes.
“As a result jobs have been lost in Deniliquin and other communities, yet the authorities seem to be in denial. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority continues to gloss over the social and economic damage of the Basin Plan.
“Until it is forced by Governments to take the issue seriously, it would appear nothing is going to change,” Mrs Scoullar said.
She added the job loss statistics also make a mockery of NSW Premier Mike Baird’s ‘Jobs for the Future’, released last week, and the recent ambitious goal announced by state Agriculture Minister Niall Blair to increase agricultural productivity by 30 per cent in the next four years.