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Touring pollies not sincere: MP

Saturday, 12th January, 2019

SA Senator Sarah Hanson-Young in Broken Hill on Thursday before heading to Menindee to see the devastation first-hand. PICTURE: Myles Burt SA Senator Sarah Hanson-Young in Broken Hill on Thursday before heading to Menindee to see the devastation first-hand. PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Emily McInerney

The Far West’s Federal Member Mark Coulton praised the NSW Water Minister for touring the Menindee fish kill disaster zone this week, but suggested other politicians who made the effort were not sincere.

“It’s a tragedy to see so many fish perish this way,” the Nationals MP told the BDT yesterday.

“The explanation I’ve been given is algae blooms are the reason, from the pictures I saw there was still an expanse of water in the river.

“We are seeing other examples in other areas of fish kills right along the river.

“As summer goes on I expect we will see more.

“The lack of flows and hot weather are not helping.”

Mr Coulton praised Regional Water Minister Niall Blair for visiting Menindee to see the catastrophe.

“Good on him, for going there to see it all firsthand.

“He obviously made his own call to meet people at the bank of the river.

“I give him credit for seeing it himself.

“He did get a look at the problem. For people to blame him or anyone is unfair.

“It is an act of nature and the impact of climate.

“A bit too much is being played up on the fault of politicians.”

Mr Coulton believed that other people and members of parliament weren’t sincere in their visits to the river.

“I am disappointed that the senators in SA and others are trying to make a name for themselves.

“There has been a lot of misrepresentation. There is a lot of stress with the river.

“Walgett has no water, everywhere upstream from Bourke to Brewarrina are facing similar situations.

“It’s a shocking state of affairs.”

Mr Coulton said he travelled over the region in a helicopter in 2010 when the floods came down.

“It was like an inland flood, we haven’t had rain like that since.

“We had some in 2016, but we are in the midst of a shocking drought.

“There are some opportunities, now is the time to get some work done on a weir in Wilcannia.

“There also needs to be more water kept in Lake Menindee for longer.

“When I last spoke with Niall Blair, David Littleproud and Kevin Humphries and there was a proposal to do that.

“We need to ensure, the water doesn’t get sent to SA as quickly.

“Menindee is very important for fish breeding and it is an amenity to the West.

“A lot of people rely on the area.”

Mr Coulton also encouraged people to spare a thought for other animals dying because of the drought.

“Thousands of kangaroos, emus and wildlife are perishing and the cause is drought.

“Graziers and farmers that generate income from the river are also impacted.

“It is a trying time for everyone.

“There is a lot of suffering at the moment, we desperately need it to rain.

“But all that can be done is tough it out.”

Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries was also contacted for comment.

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