Newly appointed Basin Community Committee chair has has an eye on South Australian issues

Taking stock: Basin Community Committee Chair Phil Duncan visits the Murray Mouth, as part of a SA tour.
Taking stock: Basin Community Committee Chair Phil Duncan visits the Murray Mouth, as part of a SA tour.

Recently appointed Basin Community Committee chair, Phil Duncan has hit the ground running, visiting Goolwa and the Murray Mouth as part of a tour of South Australian river communities, which also included Murray Bridge.

Mr Duncan spent Monday, February 10 speaking to local experts and members of the agricultural industry, about the issues, challenges and success stories of those who rely on the Basin System.

Mr Duncan said it was important he viewed the system's end and assess the issues South Australian communities face in relation to flows and the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

"I feel honoured to be given this opportunity; it's a passion of mine that I've had for the Basin, originally being from Moree in Queensland," said Mr Duncan.

"To visit South Australia during my induction is important. I know my landscape and the crippling impacts of drought up north, but I wanted to get down here and really look at the impacts downstream and see the end of the system.

"I want to listen to a range of stakeholders in the southern part of the Basin."

Mr Duncan said it was important a range of voices and messages from across communities were heard and taken back to the Murray Darling Authority and the Minister for Water with integrity and transparency.

Mr Duncan made history when he was the first Aboriginal chair appointed to the Committee and speaking from Sugars Beach while looking out at the dredges operating in the Murray Mouth, it's clear he is sincere in his message.

"Being here has been a wonderful education for me and I've had some quality discussions with local government, dairy farmers and Coorong fishermen.

"The innovation in industry I have seen in the region in terms of adaptability and ways people have kept their businesses alive is something I found really impressive and this is knowledge we can pass on."

Mr Duncan said the issue of water flows had been integral in his dialogues and was a message that had been hammered home from Griffith to Echuca, to Goolwa.

He said it was integral that water connectivity between states was achieved and maintained.

"A health indicator for me is no dredges," Mr Duncan said.

"If we can get to a point where there are no dredges working out here in the Mouth I think that would be wonderful, but everybody has a demand on the system.

"I'm asking that people come to the table with an open mind about how we can support one another. We need the top to be thinking downstream and the bottom to be thinking upstream.

"We can't keep taking and taking and taking without giving back, but together we can make a difference."

Mr Duncan said he looked forward to sharing the knowledge he had developed during his "amazing trip" to South Australia, and encouraging people to think of the future through the eyes of generations to come.

"Creating a whole Basin understanding and a desire to share that knowledge is vital to the success of the Basin Plan," he said.

"For the people who think that it's too hard, take a step back and look at the future through the eyes of your children and grandchildren, they are the ones who will hold us in judgement."