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River warriors focus fight on our patch

Saturday, 2nd March, 2019

The new president of DRAG, Ross Leddra, at Sunset Strip standing before what used to be Lake Menindee. PICTURE: Craig Brealey The new president of DRAG, Ross Leddra, at Sunset Strip standing before what used to be Lake Menindee. PICTURE: Craig Brealey

By Craig Brealey

The Darling River Action Group is changing tack and will put all of its energy into saving the river and the Menindee Lakes, according to its new president.

Ross Leddra said DRAG had recruited the services of a technical and legal advisor and appointed an Indigenous representative as it prepared to take on the immediate threats to the systems’s survival.

Mr Leddra, who for many years ran a freight business to Menindee and along the river, was elected to the top position at DRAG’s annual general meeting on Thursday night.

He said members also acknowledged the people who founded the group in 2004 when the lakes dried up and Broken Hill almost lost its water supply.

“At that time DRAG was the only organisation fighting for the river in the Murray-Darling Basin itself. 

“Now all the other areas have their own groups so we are taking a bit of a different tack this time and concentrating on our own back yard.”

Mr Leddra said the problems that DRAG had been pointing out for years had finally been exposed to the nation by the South Australian royal commission and all the other reports in the past year or more.

“It’s a whole new ball game,” he said.

“The Darling River and the lakes are our patch and that puts us on the front foot because we know more about them than the government does. 

“Our focus is now on the Darling, the lakes and the towns from Bourke to Pooncarie, the people and the economies of those towns.

“We will try to get Menindee back to where it should be.”

It is 15 years this month since DRAG was formed and on Thursday the members acknowledged founders Marie Wecker, Mark Hutton, Barney Stevens, Lexie Ogilvie and Vicky Doubtfire.

“Marie deserves a special mention because she has made a very welcome return. Her knowledge and experience will be invaluable to us,” Mr Leddra said.

“Badger Bates was very happy to come aboard as our Indigenous advisor and we have someone else who is giving us advice on the legal and technical side of things.”

Mr Leddra said DRAG had strong supporters in NSW Labor, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party and Independent Jeremy Buckingham and would continued to work with them.

The new board also comprises:

Vice President: Darryn Clifton

Secretary: Yvonne Stewart

Assistant Secretary: Don Stewart

Treasurer: Michelle Spratt

Public Officer: Tom Kennedy

Research Officer: Mark Hutton

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