Monday, 1st December, 2014
By Darrin Manuel
The band of dedicated people fighting for the Menindee Lakes must give their opponents no excuse to dismiss or discredit them, according to the former Darling River Action Group secretary.
The sorry state of the Menindee Lakes has stirred passion in many Far West residents, but Barney Stevens said it was important to harness that emotion rather than let it boil over.
The “Menindee Lakes: We Want Action” Facebook group alone has more than 10,000 members, and thousands more would also be supporting the cause.
But with any movement of such a size there is the potential for agendas to wander, and anger to get the best of individuals.
Mr Stevens encouraged everyone to remain civil at all times and direct their energy towards the common goal - saving Menindee Lakes.
“You need to figure out what you’re trying to do and how you’ll go about doing it,” he said.
“What is the problem and how can we fix the problem? You have to remain focused.
“And you need to be positive in trying to figure out the solution, but if you become abusive you can lose friends, and people who might be inclined to help the situation could be put off.
“People can complain and, to some extent, abuse the government, but you have to keep a reign on it.”
Mr Stevens said even things as simple as poor spelling and abusive language could be used to paint the Lakes’ supporters in a bad light.
“If you want to be taken seriously by government or non-government groups, you have to be focused, positive and use reasonable language,” he said.
“But there’s a lot people involved, and it’s very hard to control.
“People who feel aggrieved should definitely express themselves, but you can’t afford to get carried away.”
Mr Stevens joined DRAG in 2003, and was a tireless campaigner for the region’s waterways up until his departure from the city in 2013.