Irrigation infrastructure in Werribee South is old and in desperate need of repair.
- Approximately 40% of water supplied to farmers is lost to cracked channels and evaporation. Market gardeners have relied on a shandy of river water from river and recycled water from the nearby Western Treatment Plant to continue to grow the food that we put on our tables every night.
- Farmers are paying the highest price for water in Victoria and receive around 10-15% of what they pay for. This is all the fresh water that can be supplied as water authorities balance the needs of the fragile Werribee River ecosystem with the needs of farmers.By investing in up-to-date irrigation technology and pipelines, less precious river water is lost and farmers don't lose what they pay for.
- The annual turnover by these farmers is estimated to be over $100 million a year, with the industry employing an estimated 1,000 people every day.
- Werribee South produces 85 per cent of the state’s cauliflowers, 53 per cent of the broccoli, and around 34 per cent of the lettuce for supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths.
- They also export produce overseas, as recognised by Minister for Trade Andrew Robb. He visited the local business Fresh Select in August to praise them for their operation and planned exports to China. And he referred to their great work in a Press Club speech on 12 August and in question time that week.
- The State Government and Southern Rural Water have been discussing plans for how to upgrade infrastructure in Werribee South. Given the areas importance for Australia's food supply and export significance (as recognised by Trade Minister Robb), Barnaby Joyce should work with Victoria to secure the region's future.
- I have spoken in parliament on the issue and written twice to Barnaby Joyce calling on him to give Federal support. Three months on and there has been no reply from him. It seems he is more worried about how ready he is to be Deputy Prime Minister than he is at doing his day job as water minister.
- If Barnaby Joyce is serious about helping farmers, and this government wants to see more export of fresh produce, then they need to work with Victoria to deliver upgrades and long-term investment.
If you want the Federal Water Minister to care about Werribee South and for Victorian farmers, contact his office and tell them we want water investment in Werribee South!