Can­di­dates fo­rum

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Wa­ter pol­icy will be a key fo­cus at a Mur­ray by-elec­tion can­di­dates’ fo­rum, to be held in De­niliquin next week­end.

It has been or­gan­ised by the Speak Up cam­paign and will be at the De­niliquin Golf Club this Sun­day from 6pm.

The Na­tion­als can­di­date Austin Evans, La­bor’s Michael Kidd, In­de­pen­dents Brian Mills and Peter Robin­son, Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers can­di­date He­len Dal­ton and The Greens’ Ray Good­lass have all con­firmed they will at­tend.

The Mur­ray by-elec­tion, fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Adrian Pic­coli, will be on Satur­day, October 14.

Speak Up spokesper­son Shel­ley Scoullar said while wa­ter would be high on the agenda at the fo­rum, other im­por­tant is­sues likely to be dis­cussed in­clude health, ed­u­ca­tion and the fu­ture of the re­gion’s tim­ber in­dus­try.

In re­la­tion to wa­ter, Mrs Scoullar said the fo­rum would “pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for can­di­dates to tell us how their party will help in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity and con­fi­dence in the Mur­ray Val­ley.

‘‘Our re­gion needs good pol­icy around wa­ter, which drives our economies, cre­ates jobs and has to be man­aged in a way that pro­tects our en­vi­ron­ment,’’ she said.

‘‘We all know the Mur­ray Val­ley has been hit hard by po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions and other deals around wa­ter, mainly the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Plan. The next two weeks pro­vides the re­gion and the can­di­dates with a unique op­por­tu­nity to tell us how they are go­ing to find the bal­ance which so far has been sadly lack­ing.’’

Mrs Scoullar said with po­lit­i­cal willpower there are still op­tions within the im­ple­men- tation of the Basin Plan to en­sure the Mur­ray Val­ley does not be­come the easy tar­get for fur­ther re­moval of pro­duc­tive wa­ter.

‘‘Our farm­ers are ef­fi­cient wa­ter users and our re­gion has fer­tile, pro­duc­tive soils. We also have one of the world’s most ef­fi­cient grav­ity feed ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems. It is all cur­rently be­ing un­der-utilised and is at fur­ther risk with the Basin Plan.’’

Mrs Scoullar said in the present cir­cum­stances the Mur­ray Val­ley needs an elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive who will stand up for the elec­torate and not toe the party line.

‘‘Speak Up does not sup­port the 450 gi­gal­itre up­wa­ter; it can­not come from the Mur­ray Val­ley and can­not be de­liv­ered by the Mur­ray River.

‘‘The process in­volv­ing the SDL projects has been un­ac­cept­able, and em­pha­sises that we need some­one to help lobby for changes to en­sure a gen­uine adap­tive process is de­vel­oped. We be­lieve ev­ery can­di­date should give an un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment that their party will, un­der no cir­cum­stances, sup­port the 450 gi­gal­itre up­wa­ter. Noth­ing else is ac­cept­able.’’

Mrs Scoullar said an­other im­por­tant is­sue was the pro­posed De­niliquin Air­port up­grade, which can turn the re­gion into a freight hub, gen­er­ate em­ploy­ment and pro­vide a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic boost.

She said the fo­rum will give vot­ers the op­por­tu­nity to meet the can­di­dates, lis­ten to an ad­dress from each can­di­date and ask ques­tions. A bar­be­cue tea will be avail­able. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion email speakup4wa­ter@gmail.com.

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