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Independent candidate throws hat in the ring

Friday, 10th May, 2019

Independent candidate Will Lander isn’t afraid to roll out the swag during his campaign tour, although he had to sleep in his vehicle one night when he was menaced by two wild dogs this side of Bourke. PICTURE: Myles Burt Independent candidate Will Lander isn’t afraid to roll out the swag during his campaign tour, although he had to sleep in his vehicle one night when he was menaced by two wild dogs this side of Bourke. PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Myles Burt

Independent candidate for Parkes, Will Lander, has been camping under the stars on his election campaign tour of the Far West. 

Stopping into Broken Hill yesterday, Mr Lander, a tyre fitting business owner and agronomist from Coonamble, said he decided to throw his hat in the ring due to what he described as the deliberate neglect of country towns. 

He said essential services had been cut by government to force people out and he also wants a Royal Commission into water mismanagement in the Murray-Darling Basin, coal seam gas projects banned and an inquiry into the Inland Rail project. 

Mr Lander said coal seam gas had the potential to not only destroy the Murray-Darling Basin but also the Great Artesian Basin.

“Some of the elements coming out of the ground, the best of the worst of them is arsenic,” he said.

“They’re talking 100 tonnes a day of salt out of this water. They say they’re treating this water and they can’t prove it, they’re emptying it into creeks that will run directly back into Namoi with big rains.

“They’re talking 850 wells to start with. Once they get those in it will continue - there will be thousands of them.

“It’s the biggest aquifer of freshwater in the world and these guys want to punch holes into it.

“There’s no jobs involved in it, it’s all remote, they don’t clean up after themselves - they’re going to poison us all.

“Everything we’re doing fighting for the Murray-Darling Basin, you may as well give it away because it will kill the whole system.

“No one knows how much is down there, and now we run the risk of mismanaging the Artesian the same as we’ve done with the whole Murray Darling system.”

A Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was a top priority, he said, and a major reason for his standing in Parkes. 

“We’ve got big business and corporate business being put in front of communities, environment and smaller growers.

“I’ve been accused of being completely against irrigators, well I’m not.

“Small business irrigators have been there forever and we didn’t have issues.

“We’ve had the big irrigators come in, deals being done, they’re all corporates, they’re all investment companies, they’re all overseas companies.

“All of a sudden in 10, 15 and 20 years we start seeing little bits of problems and these guys say it’s because of the dry.

“Well it’s not. This drought has shown them up.

“The Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s got to be paused while we have a royal commission, where we can look right into it and see what’s going on.”

Mr Lander said both major parties had a part in the mismanagement and hadn’t done enough to fix it.

“They’re now no longer standing for communities, they’re no longer standing for the Australian people,” Mr Lander said.

“You’ve got Mr Coulton coming out and waving money out at Wilcannia and Menindee the other day. Why wasn’t it done three years ago, six years ago? He’s been in since 2007. It doesn’t fool anyone what they’re doing.

“Mr Coulton is supposed to help our electorate, not give token gifts come election time or give a shire council a pat on the back.

“Then on the other side you’ve got Labor doing the same thing.

“They’re playing with our money.”

Tension has been high the eastern side of Parkes due to the planning of the Inland Rail, which Mr Lander has said lacks transparency.

“We’re not arguing that we don’t want it because we all want infrastructure, that’s want we lack in the bush.

“But they’ve realigned where the rail’s going to go, so they’re going to put it on green fields.

“They’re going to put it on non-existing lines where they could keep it on corridors at the moment and use as much of that as they can to less impact communities and people.

“This rail line doesn’t even have an ending to it; it ends 35kms short of a port so it all has to get put back on trucks again.

“All we’ve been asking for two to three years is why the routes been changed, what the costing is for the whole project?

“There’s no transparency and everywhere I’ve been there’s no trust.”

Mr Lander worries over the future of people living in the Parkes electorate, having been born and bred in Coonamble. 

“I’m fourth generation, we turned up in 1860s.

“But in the last 20 or 40 years it’s started a downward slide.

“We’re on a borderline now, a real knife edge, that if this keeps continuing in five or 10 years I won’t be out here. They don’t want us out here.

“The only ones that will be out here are corporates, and at the end of the day to me and to a lot of other people that’s what it’s coming across like.

“You can nearly say both sides of government are owned and run by corporations.

“We’ve got communities that have been out here a 100-odd years, we’ve got indigenous people that have been out here a hell of a lot longer than that.

“The easiest way is ‘get them out of there’, they remove a service, they take the water and people move.

“Our area is a great area, we put a lot into the economy and we should be getting our fair share back.

“The trust has evaporated.”

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