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MDBP pushes Shepparton business owner to join Can the Plan rally

By Holly Tregenza

For Andrew Cleaves, the Can the Plan rally doesn't really feel like a choice.

It's a responsibility.

The owner of Cleaves Earth Moving and drainage and Cleaves Garden Supplies in Shepparton has seen enough to be very, very worried about the future of the Goulburn Valley.

“I have friends that are dairy farmers and of course I really feel for them,” he said.

“But we are seeing the crippling effects of the M-DBP right across Shepparton. In drought, work tends to dry up for everyone.

“While people can still turn their tap on and buy their Australian milk, they don't see the importance of fighting the M-DBP.

“But we are a district built on irrigation, and the day will come when all our milk is imported from China."

Mr Cleaves believes water is a commodity for all Australians, not just those who can afford it.

That's the message he'll be sending loud and clear when he gets to Canberra.

“We have to take it right to them this time because if you don't keep going and keep pushing, nothing happens,” he said.

“If we all stick together and become one voice things tend to get done. I just feel like we have to stand up now before it's all too late.”

There will be two Cleaves trucks among the convoy to Canberra, a gesture that has cost the company hundreds of dollars in fuel.

“We are willing to do it because right now people are losing their livelihood, they're losing their lives,” Mr Cleaves said.

“A rule changes almost instantly if someone gets killed in the workplace, but when we have people committing suicide because they have no water, nothing seems to happen.

“There are people paying for water when they are on zero allocation.

“It's absolutely criminal and people can't survive.”

Mr Cleaves said he hoped the rally brought attention to the issue and forced policy makers to act.