Fight­ing for Far­rer

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Kevin Mack (pic­tured) says the South­ern Riverina will be a key re­gion for his cam­paign at the up­com­ing fed­eral elec­tion.

The in­de­pen­dent can­di­date is hop­ing to win one of the safest Lib­eral seats in the coun­try held by Mem­ber for Far­rer Sus­san Ley.

The Al­bury City Coun­cil Mayor trav­elled across the Far­rer elec­torate last week.

Mr Mack told the SOUTH­ERN RIVERINA NEWS he’s aware of the is­sues faced by lo­cal peo­ple in Fin­ley and Ber­ri­gan, par­tic­u­larly los­ing im­por­tant gov­ern­ment ser­vices which had a flow on ef­fect to health.

‘‘There’s been a dis­tinct with­drawal from gov­ern­ment agen­cies in the last 10 years that has im­pacted on the econ­omy of those towns in terms of mid­dle class struc­ture.

‘‘A lot of that with­drawal has been be­cause of wa­ter de­part­ment and man­age­ment, in­clud­ing the cen­tral­i­sa­tion of those de­part­ments, which is a di­rect con­tra­dic­tion to what they said they’re do­ing at a gov­ern­ment level.

‘‘The is­sue is that there’s an age­ing pop­u­la­tion across the towns and they’re be­ing left with­out ad­e­quate health ser­vices.

‘‘You have fam­i­lies, both young and old, trav­el­ling long dis­tances to get a min­i­mum qual­ity of health; whether it’s phys­i­cal health or men­tal health, that’s not okay.

‘‘We have a sig­nif­i­cant men­tal health prob­lem in many re­gions of Aus­tralia, let alone the South­ern Riverina.

‘‘There’s a prob­lem with young peo­ple and adults, and a lot of that has to do with the mis­man­age­ment of wa­ter and as­sets, and gov­ern­ment promises that are made but not kept.’’

Mr Mack said there are a whole clus­ter of is­sues for Fin­ley, Ber­ri­gan, Tocumwal and Jer­ilderie which ‘‘like the rest of Far­rer is largely for­got­ten’’.

He said mis­man­age­ment of wa­ter through the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Plan has se­verely im­pacted all towns across the South­ern Riverina.

‘‘The plan started in 2010 and at the time we had great rain af­ter the mil­len­nium drought; 2016 we had a flood and now we’ve had two years of dry weather.

‘‘The plan has been di­rectly con­flicted with the cli­mate and it has demon­strated not to be work­ing.

‘‘You have peo­ple in those com­mu­ni­ties see­ing wa­ter run­ning past their gate and they’re be­ing told they can’t use it.

‘‘They’re pay­ing to ac­cess wa­ter they can’t use, they’re putting crops in they can’t wa­ter so this whole ar­gu­ment of ‘we have to give it back to the en­vi­ron­ment’ is false be­cause the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists say it’s not work­ing.

‘‘The triple bot­tom line of the plan does not work, it’s not suited to the so­ciale­co­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal needs of the Basin.

‘‘One thing we need to re­mem­ber is in 1936 that dam was launched at Lake Hume as an ir­ri­ga­tion mir­a­cle.

‘‘What changed in the last 80 years? What has hap­pened to our com­mu­nity when there’s Dart­mouth Dam, Hume Dam and the Snowy Hy­dro sys­tem.

‘‘We need to pro­vide equal ser­vice to all triple bot­tom line is­sues but right now the $8 bil­lion that has been spent on the plan has achieved noth­ing.

‘‘I love hav­ing a good plan but it’s not a good plan,’’ Mr Mack said.

Be­ing elected is an up­hill bat­tle for Mr Mack, with Sus­san Ley claim­ing 70 per cent of the vote at the 2016 Fed­eral elec­tion, which was her big­gest margin since win­ning the seat from the Na­tion­als in 2001 af­ter Tim Fis­cher re­tired.

Mr Mack said dis­dain to­wards the sit­ting gov­ern­ment and po­lit­i­cal par­ties can be an ad­van­tage for him at the fed­eral elec­tion.

‘‘There’s a lot of dis­cus­sion about the rise of in­de­pen­dents but I be­lieve it’s based more around the rise of dis­sat­is­fac­tion in the ex­ist­ing sys­tem of gov­ern­ment.

‘‘It has noth­ing to do with the peo­ple, it has more to do with the vot­ers say­ing they’ve had enough of what they’re get­ting.

‘‘We’re pay­ing too much for ev­ery­thing and what’s their so­lu­tion; we’ll tax more.

‘‘Farm­ing is a dif­fi­cult game but it’s some­thing they be­lieve in, so when you see the wa­ter run­ning past the gate you think ‘well, what the hell is this all about’.

‘‘They need their wa­ter and they need it now. If we don’t get a wa­ter al­lo­ca­tion promised by an in­cum­bent gov­ern­ment in NSW, you will not get it next year.

‘‘The only way you will start see­ing change in pol­icy set­tings and at­ti­tude of gov­ern­ment is to draw the line in the sand and make it in­de­pen­dent.’’

Mr Mack said as the chair of Riverina and Mur­ray Joint Or­gan­i­sa­tion (RAMJO) he has a strong re­la­tion­ship with Ber­ri­gan Shire and Mur­rumbidgee Coun­cil may­ors and gen­eral man­agers.

He said with his con­stant talks with lo­cal coun­cils he is across all strate­gic is­sues.

‘‘I get on ex­tremely well with all of them. I re­gard every mayor and GM on RAMJO as my friend; they are as frus­trated as the next per­son.

‘‘Lo­cal gov­ern­ment is the first tier of gov­ern­ment that lis­tens. You may not think they do, but they do.

‘‘Matty Han­nan (Ber­ri­gan Shire mayor) is hurt­ing and I’ve told him we need to get peo­ple on the ground and start rais­ing money to make sure we nail the Lib­eral Party to the cross,’’ Mr Mack said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.