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Mayor welcomes portfolio split

Tuesday, 2nd April, 2019

By Craig Brealey

The NSW Nationals have kept their hold on the water and agriculture portfolios but Broken Hill’s mayor says she can work with them.

Darriea Turley ran as the Labor candidate for the seat of Barwon at the State election and yesterday she said she thought the two new ministers would be an improvement on the last.

On Sunday, the government announced its new cabinet and divided the portfolios of water and agriculture that were held by Niall Blair as Minister for Primary Industries.

After the government lost Barwon and the seat of Murray, Mr Blair stood down and the government appointed Melinda Pavey Water Minister and Adam Marshall Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW.

Ms Pavey is the Member for Oxley on the north coast and Mr Marshall is the Member for the Northern Tablelands. His electorate includes the cotton-growing towns of Moree and Mungindi.

“I welcome the split between the two departments,” Ms Turley said.

“I think people have always had concerns about one minister being in charge of agriculture and water. Agriculture was always given priority over water supply for our communities.

“We had a good relationship with Melinda Pavey when she was Minister for Roads because she understood the difference between inner city and rural.”

Ms Turley said she was also happy with Mr Marshall being made Minister for Western NSW.

The previous Coalition government scrapped this ministry.

“It appointed a Minister for Western Sydney but could not be bothered with having a minister for the largest area of the State, with its crown land all its challenges,” she said.

“The Western Division had put up many motions to reinstate this ministry because it is critical to ensure the food bowl of NSW and the communities have a voice.”

Ms Turley said Mr Marshall, the former Tourism Minister, had a “strong” reputation in his electorate. 

“He was elected mayor at a very young age and was the vice president of the Local Government Shires Association.

“He’s from Gunnedah so he understands the challenges we face and I think he will be a strong advocate for us.”

The government’s changes showed it accepted that western NSW had been neglected, Ms Turley said, and now it had to put things right.

“It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. The government has the opportunity to put good policies in place to win back the trust which they have lost.”

Rob McBride of Tolarno Station on the Darling River described the separation of water from agriculture as “a step in the right direction”.

“Clearly this would not have happened if the Nationals had not lost Barwon and Murray to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party, but it is disappointing that the Nationals are still in charge.”

Mr McBride said the Nationals had ignored farmers and graziers in the west and that too little drought assistance had been provided by the state and federal governments.

“The transport and feed subsidies have been miniscule. They have had no effect. Agriculture in the Murray-Darling is collapsing.

“We hope the result of the election sent a clear message to Sydney that people need food and water, and it is disappointing that the environment message didn’t get through.

“We hope and expect to see regular visits from the new ministers to the real Western Division; that is, beyond the Blue Mountains.”

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