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Labor inquiry pledge

Friday, 11th January, 2019

The NSW opposition wants a special commission of inquiry into the state’s water management after a mass fish death event in the Darling River system.

Labor leader Michael Daley yesterday called on the Berejiklian government to establish the inquiry after up to a million fish died in the river at Menindee.

Mr Daley vowed if Labor was elected to government in March it would establish an inquiry with “royal commission-like powers”.

“The scale of this disaster is extraordinary and unprecedented,” the opposition leader said in a statement.

“The people of NSW have watched for 18 months as water theft scandals, water mismanagement and now ecological disasters have rocked far west rivers.”

Premier Gladys Berejiklian assured angry residents in the region the government was working to find “solutions”.

She praised Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair for “dropping everything” to inspect the river himself.

“We’re working through it as fast as we can to see what solutions we can contribute towards and I commend him (Mr Blair) for being on the ground,” she told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

Mr Blair said he met with some residents but changed the location of his visit after threats were made towards him. 

“There were threats directly made and people, I believe, (were) offering money to carry out those threats,” Mr Blair told 2GB Radio on Thursday.

Ex-Greens and now independent MP Jeremy Buckingham also visited the region and in a video uploaded to his Facebook page is seen retching while holding a dead fish.

“What stinks more than this dead animal is the management of this river by the National party and the absolute decimation of the river by the irrigators,” he says in the video.

Mr Buckingham, standing alongside Menindee locals Dick Arnold and Rob McBride, is then seen buckled over and walking away from the camera because of the “massive stink”.

He can be heard dry-heaving in the background before jumping into the river.

“I felt so sick that I panicked and jumped in the river to escape it - as bad as it is!” he said in a post on Facebook.

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