New Year must in­clude ru­ral and re­gional fo­cus

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - NEWS -

The tra­di­tion of ring­ing in the new year is about more than just a party.

It’s an op­por­tu­nity to look at the high­lights, and low­lights, of the past 12 months and look ahead to the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the next 12 months.

In 2017 much hap­pened in De­niliquin and dis­trict that we could look back on with a fond and pos­i­tive fo­cus.

For ex­am­ple more than $19 mil­lion in de­vel­op­ments were ap­proved for the Ed­ward River Coun­cil area in the first 11 months last year.

Much of that is with thanks to the long awaited dis­tri­bu­tion of two ma­jor cash in­cen­tive pro­grams — $3 mil­lion from the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Re­gional Eco­nomic Diver­si­fi­ca­tion Pro­gramme to re­ward the NSW Govern- ment from sign­ing up to the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan, and $10 mil­lion from the Stronger Com­mu­ni­ties fund de­posited into Ed­ward River Coun­cil ac­count once formed through a merger of the for­mer De­niliquin and Conargo Shire Coun­cils.

Re­gard­less of where or how the money was de­liv­ered to us, it has prompted a de­vel­op­ment pro­gram that will boost out so­cioe­co­nomic po­ten­tial.

But there’s a few over­due tasks that still threaten to un­der­mine all the good that’s be­ing pur­sued for our dis­trict com­mu­nity.

It’s a new year, and we call on our gov­ern­ments — both state and fed­eral — to make some New Year’s res­o­lu­tions that will ad­dress these is­sues once and for all.

We need the NSW Gov­ern­ment to de­liver on com­mit­ments made by for­mer Mem­ber for Mur­ray Adrian Pic­coli and his suc­ces­sor Austin Evans to re­turn sus­tain­able com­mer­cial tim­ber har­vest­ing to the Mur­ray Val­ley Na­tional Park be­tween De­niliquin and Moama.

We also need the NSW Gov­ern­ment to act to re­pair con­sis­tently in­ac­cu­rate pop­u­la­tion pre­dic­tions which show the Ed­ward River Coun­cil area is in a steady and steep de­cline, de­spite 2016 Cen­sus sta­tis­tics show­ing al­most a five per cent in­crease in the De­niliquin pop­u­la­tion.

The NSW Depart­ment of Plan­ning and En­vi­ron­ment must also im­me­di­ately act to change its cur­rent pop­u­la­tion for the ERC area of 8,650 to match the 8,851 listed in the Cen­sus.

The third chief is­sue we need ad­dressed has been on our res­o­lu­tion list for a num­ber of years — a Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan that truly achieves a triple bot­tom line (pos­i­tive out­comes for the en­vi­ron­ment, econ­omy and so­cial fab­ric) re­sult with­out any third party im­pacts.

This should not be a mon­u­men­tal task, but it can­not be achieved un­til the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment, Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Author­ity and other par­ties lis­ten to the food pro­duc­ers who will be im­pacted by their de­ci­sions, and work col­lab­o­ra­tively on so­lu­tions.

Help­ing to achieve these goals is a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion for our team at the PASTORAL TIMES. We will con­tinue to high­light ac­tions needed, work­ing al­ways in the best long term in­ter­est of our re­gion.

We call on Fed­eral Mem­ber for Far­rer Sus­san Ley and NSW Mem­ber for Mur­ray Austin Evans to make it their res­o­lu­tion to con­vince their gov­ern­ments to take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion that sup­ports ru­ral and re­gional Aus­tralia and re­solves chal­lenges be­ing faced by our re­gion. To achieve this, they must per­suade their po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate re­gional com­plex­i­ties, rather than mak­ing de­ci­sions based on city votes, which past ac­tions would sug­gest carry more po­lit­i­cal weight.

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