Plug the Pipe rally set for tomorrow

Posted by Isobel Drake on 2nd June 2008

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has called on Melburnians to support tomorrow’s “Plug the Pipe” Rally claiming that any threat to irrigated agriculture would result in higher food prices at city checkouts.

VFF President Simon Ramsay said that support from city people would be critical to the success of the rally, which is due to have a demonstration on the steps of parliament by about 12:30pm.

Mr Ramsay was strong in his belief that the current high grocery prices will escalate further if the North South pipeline goes ahead. “The North South pipeline is not only a threat to rural communities; it is a threat to city lifestyles as well. Victorian irrigated agriculture generates $9 billion in production annually, the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District accounts for the vast majority of this and any threat to its water supply will cut local production and drive up grocery prices in Melbourne,” he said.

“Farmers from across Victoria have indicated their support for the rally and have already signed up to fill hundreds of seats in utes, trucks and on busses. We are now calling on city folk to take half an hour out of their lunch-break and come to Parliament House to support their farmers and to support lower prices,” Mr Ramsay added. “The VFF’s position throughout this debate has always been to oppose the government’s plans to build the pipe. We have questioned them at every opportunity, on consultation, on calculations and on compromise, it’s time for Melburnians to start asking questions as well,” he said.

The North-South pipeline has been the cause of great debate with the project set to redirect water away from the country to city dwellers and farmers have been really concerned about the impact of the plan. “Pumping 75 gigalitres of productive water out of the Murray Darling Basin is approximately the equivalent of taking $63 million of dairy and horticultural produce off supermarket shelves. Farmers want the government to put a plug in it,” Mr Ramsay concluded.