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Barwon candidate says voters sick of arrogant Nationals

Friday, 23rd January, 2015

Rohan Boehm says people across Barwon are in the mood for change. Rohan Boehm says people across Barwon are in the mood for change.

By Andrew Robertson

It’s a vast electorate but independent candidate Rohan Boehm says people right across Barwon want much the same thing: a voice.

In his third visit to Broken Hill this month, Mr Boehm said yesterday voters were telling him they had had enough of being “under the spell of the Nationals”.

“People who have urged me to do this say they have had enough of the arrogance, indifference and poor performance - let’s run this part of the world the way we want it to run,” the Narrabri businessman said.

Mr Boehm is one of five candidates standing for Barwon including the incumbent, Nationals minister Kevin Humphries who holds the seat by a comfortable margin. 

But after travelling around the electorate Mr Boehm gets the distinct feeling people are fed up and in the mood for change.

Anyone needing evidence that the major parties are treating the bush with contempt need only look at the Barwon electorate itself, according to Mr Boehm.

The last boundaries redistribution saw it extended west to take in Broken Hill and now it makes up almost 45 per cent of the State geographically.   

The changes were to bring Barwon back within the voter enrolment quota, but Mr Boehm said there were Sydney electorates left unchanged with even smaller populations. 

“This is just destined for future (population) contraction, this electorate.” 

Instead of finding ways to reverse population decline in the bush, Mr Boehm suggested the government was “completely comfortable” with the migration. 

“They don’t want infrastructure out here.”

He said the stance was in stark contrast to the desire of people across the electorate who were telling him they wanted not only to grow old in their towns, but wanted their children to find jobs and stay also.

Turning around the fortunes of Broken Hill - “the finest inland city in Australia” - and other inland centres required only some vision, said Mr Boehm, who owns an agribusiness consulting company.

He said the region’s abundant natural resources could easily be harnessed to generate the State’s base-load power, which in turn could generate job-creating industries in the far west.

“I want inland NSW to become the powerhouse of eastern Australia,” he said.

“The idea that you need coal-fire to provide base load power is a myth.” 

But industry also needed plenty of water, which would be lacking in the event government was allowed to put in a pipeline to the Murray and decommission Menindee Lakes.

Mr Boehm said residents needed to understand that the intention of government was to reduce the Darling River to an environmental flow for South Australia.  

“Within the national water plan, the Menindee Lakes are not really useful.”

Putting in a pipeline would not only see the lakes shut down but it “reduces the sustainability of the city to the capacity of the pipeline”.

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