Let’s fight

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - OUT & ABOUT -

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.

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