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From the Editor's Desk
Premier Weatherill visits the Riverland
Just five days into his role as Premier, Jay Weatherill accompanied by his Minister for the Murray River Paul Caica MP visited the Riverland and attended a community consultation forum organised by the Riverland councils to discuss the future of the Murray River. Mr Weatherill told the 100 irrigators and community members who gathered at the Berri Town Hall that his aim was to develop a South Australian united front in order to challenge the eastern states and achieve a better deal for a sustainable future of the Murray and its communities.
It must be acknowledged that Mr Weatherill's genuinity and his humane approach left a very good impression to those present - many of whom contributed their experiences and ideas on the water issue. The Premier, who was personally taking notes on the discussion, said that he came to the Riverland to listen and promised to take the people's views on board.
However, one issue that was overlooked by the participants at Tuesday night's forum, is the growing foreign ownership of Australian primary production. Until a few years ago, the water was not an issue for the Murray communities. It was flowing in big volumes, it was reasonably priced and thousands of small farming operations were prospering in all farming sectors.
In recent years, we have experienced unlimited foreign investment by big corporations into our primary industries as well as into our main resource, the life line of our country, the Murray River. As a consequence Australian farmers and fruit growers are exiting the industry in droves.
Foreign investment brings jobs and growth to the local economy initially, but in the long term, unlimited investment is detrimental to our local producers as well as to the consumers.
We believe this is an issue which cannot be ignored when discussing the future of the river and the regional communities.
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