Mur­ray by-elec­tion is crit­i­cal for wa­ter fu­ture

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - — Suzanna Sheed In­de­pen­dent State Mem­ber for Shepparton — Deb­bie Buller Mur­rami

This Satur­day in NSW there are three state gov­ern­ment by­elec­tions.

The suc­cess­ful can­di­date in the seat of Mur­ray will be crit­i­cal to the fu­ture rep­re­sen­ta­tion of ir­ri­ga­tion com­mu­ni­ties in that elec­torate and likely more broadly.

The Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Author­ity is in cri­sis and the Lib­eral and Na­tional par­ties fed­er­ally and in NSW have failed to pro­vide the lead­er­ship and sup­port our ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties in the south­ern basin des­per­ately need.

Even be­fore the damn­ing Four Cor­ners report al­leg­ing wa­ter theft in the north­ern basin, com­mu­ni­ties along the Mur­ray River were strug­gling un­der the weight of the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan yet our calls for help and nu­mer­ous so­cio-eco­nomic im­pact stud­ies show­ing the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects so far have largely fallen on deaf ears.

Five in­quiries have been launched since the Four Cor­ners al­le­ga­tions were re­vealed.

A se­nior NSW wa­ter bu­reau­crat has been re­ferred to the state cor­rup­tion body.

The MDBA has in­sti­gated its own com­pli­ance re­view — an in­ter­nal re­view that by def­i­ni­tion can­not be in­de­pen­dent and has demon­strated a fun­da­men­tal mis­un­der­stand­ing of the MDBA’s role.

Ir­ri­ga­tion com­mu­ni­ties can­not en­dure the loss of any more wa­ter from the con­sump­tive pool, nor does the leg­is­la­tion say they have to and yet all ma­jor par­ties say the plan must be rolled out in full.

Un­for­tu­nately, gov­ern­ments seem to be pur­su­ing a po­lit­i­cal out­come rather than a ra­tio­nal one.

They are forg­ing blindly ahead to en­sure ev­ery last drop is re­cov­ered, de­spite data suggest­ing there may be more wa­ter in the sys­tem than pre­vi­ously thought and with­out con­sid­er­ing the re­sults of their own so­cioe­co­nomic as­sess­ments al­ready un­der way.

In Vic­to­ria, the Na­tional Party has been largely silent on these is­sues.

Fed­er­ally, the Na­tional Party has re­fused to sup­port a ju­di­cial in­quiry that would help an­swer these ques­tions de­spite stake­holder calls for this to oc­cur.

NSW is no bet­ter with NSW Na­tion­als Wa­ter Min­is­ter Niall Blair also failed to re­lease an ex­pert panel’s report into the plan’s Sus­tain­able Di­ver­sion Limit Ad­just­ment Mech­a­nism, iron­i­cally com­mis­sioned to en­sure trans­parency.

In the NSW seat of Mur­ray, Na­tion­als can­di­date Austin Evans says his party is against fur­ther wa­ter buy­backs, yet un­der his party’s coali­tion gov­ern­ment, this has con­tin­ued to oc­cur.

Ac­tions speak louder than words and the usual po­lit­i­cal party play­ers have no poli­cies that in­di­cate a sus­tain­able way for­ward for our south­ern ir­ri­ga­tion com­mu­ni­ties.

In this vac­uum it is im­por­tant that the al­ter­na­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion on of­fer is now given a chance to rep­re­sent our needs, not only in the forth­com­ing by-elec­tions but in ev­ery forth­com­ing elec­tion in all fed­eral and state seats on both sides of the Mur­ray River.

Mak­ing these elec­torates mar­ginal over the next few years will be the most im­por­tant step we can take as com­mu­ni­ties to en­sure that we are lis­tened to and taken se­ri­ously. and lo­cal me­dia, im­ply­ing the whole world might fall down if we dare to make this state seat mar­ginal over the next 17 months.

We had Barn­aby go­ing as far as say­ing that if Mur­ray is won by He­len Dal­ton, we’re de­liv­er­ing a La­bor Gov­ern­ment.

That’s com­plete and ut­ter non­sense. This is a by-elec­tion.

If He­len Dal­ton wins, it will not change the state gov­ern­ment to La­bor.

If you vote for He­len, you’re vot­ing for He­len and the Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers Party. She has not joined the La­bor party.

If you want to vote for La­bor then vote for Michael Kidd, not He­len Dal­ton.

Kay Hull says she is dis­ap­pointed in He­len Dal­ton.

I’m in­cred­i­bly dis­ap­pointed in Kay for say­ing that.

Kay knows per­fectly well that He­len Dal­ton has al­ways spo­ken for our re­gion at nu­mer­ous places and rep­re­sen­ta­tive ta­bles.

Per­haps the biggest mis­take is that the Na­tional Party re­jected He­len in 2015 and did not let her re­join?

I soundly warned Michael McCormack and a few other Na­tion­als that it was a huge mis­take to do that.

Ha­rass­ing He­len short weeks ago just a few when they re­alised Adrian Pic­coli was throw­ing in the towel was too lit­tle too late.

Kay is not con­test­ing this seat. She isn’t even in par­lia­ment any more. She was a truly ex­cel­lent ad­vo­cate for our re­gion, but that was about the per­son, not the party.

Michael McCormack Barn­aby aren’t con­test­ing seat ei­ther.

I do have to ask why our fed­eral Na­tion­als are tak­ing over this cam­paign and all but smoth­er­ing their state col­leagues and even Austin.

What are they so con­cerned about?

I agree with Daisy Arm­strong that we’ve all been given an op­por­tu­nity to send a mes­sage to our state gov­ern­ment, and the chance to raz­zle them up for tak­ing us for granted.

They’ve been far too in­clined to rely on our re­silience, loy­alty and adapt­abil­ity and trade us off for party po­lit­i­cal pur­poses.

That’s the prob­lem Kay Hull. It wasn’t you or the fed­eral Na­tion­als that cre­ated the prob­lem, it was your state col­leagues.

He­len tak­ing this seat will ac­tu­ally be part of the so­lu­tion. and this

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