A Deniliquin businessman wants the community to band together and ‘‘take the gloves off’’ to fight governments which he fears will destroy the town.
Lester Wheatley said it is time to stop ‘‘pussyfooting around’’ and says civil disobedience should be considered to highlight our frustration.
‘‘The closure of the rice mill is the last straw. This is a ridiculous situation that should never have been allowed to happen,’’ Mr Wheatley said.
‘‘We can’t grow food and fibre in the region because there is no water, but at the same time the forests are being flood unnaturally, which is causing damage of its own.
‘‘It’s time we took the fight up to the politicians; it’s time to stop playing nice.’’
Mr Wheatley believes with elections at state and federal level next year we must be targeting our local political representatives, Sussan Ley (Farrer) and Austin Evans (Murray).
‘‘What have they done for us? Absolutely nothing!’’ he answered.
‘‘Sussan Ley as our federal member has allowed the Basin Plan to be rolled out with barely a whimper. She has a rant every now and then, but what has she achieved?
‘‘Where has she been while (Water Minister) David Littleproud has been protecting his own political career at our expense?
‘‘Littleproud says we should implement the plan ‘on time and in full’, but refuses to accept the damage to rural communities, and obviously Sussan Ley is not forceful enough in getting the message across.
‘‘At state level Austin Evans has done nothing for this region since he was elected last year. This used to be Nationals heartland, but now they’ve abandoned us, so I think it is time we abandoned them.’’
Mr Wheatley says ‘‘the time for complacency is over’’.
He supports the Speak Up Melbourne rally at next week’s meeting of state and federal water ministers, but says ‘‘it’s not enough’’.
‘‘We need a local community rally . . . a big rally that sends a powerful message. And we need to follow it with protests and perhaps road blockades.
‘‘We have to be more aggressive and more vocal.’’
Mr Wheatley, who has a riverfront home, said it is an ‘‘absolute disgrace’’ that he watches water flowing past his house at ‘‘more than 1.5 feet above summer levels, and this has been happening for two months’’.
‘‘We’re pouring water down the system to South Australia, which has been on 100 per cent allocation from the start, but authorities won’t allow any to be used for food and fibre production.
‘‘We also have the ludicrous situation where local ratepayers have no water and the state government refuses to allow Edward River Council to transfer water that it does not need.
‘‘You would think this could only happen in an episode of ‘Yes Minister’, but it’s playing out before our eyes and having drastic consequences on our community.’’
Mr Wheatley, like others, has expressed the view that the Federal Government believes our region is the collateral damage it will accept from the Basin Plan.
‘‘Is the plan of the government to destroy the New South Wales Murray as a food and fibre producing region, so it can send all the water to South Australia? If that’s the case just tell us, so we can take whatever steps are needed to protect our future,’’ Mr Wheatley said.