PM holds court in Silly Goat
Friday, 30th March, 2018
By Myles Burt
While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull splashed some cash for the Royal Flying Doctor Service yesterday, he was dryly received by water activists such as the Darling River Action Group.
Grazier Rob McBride from Tolarno Station alongside other DRAG members held a banner in Town Square to try and grab Mr Turnbull’s attention.
Mr McBride said even though he thought it’s great the RFDS was receiving $84 million in well-deserved funding, he was still skeptical about the PM’s actions.
“Personally I think it’s a bit of a political stunt,” he said.
“He’s let the river die from Tilpa down to Wentworth ... assuming that it’s all okay, it isn’t.”
Mr McBride said the donation to the RFDS came at an appropriate time as mental health care for graziers has never been needed more.
“Great that you’re putting money into mental health, there’s very much mental health issues on the Darling River,” he said.
He then said that Mr Turnbull has been the worst PM on record for environmental protection due to the mismanagement of the Murray-Darling Basin.
The Darling River now faces amber and red level warnings for blue-green algae, which can kill stock.
Mr McBride urgently called for a Federal Royal Commission into water mismanagement and stated that the PM was currently making meaningless inquiries that weren’t going anywhere.
“Whilst the Prime Minister says it’s a drought, yes it’s a drought, but that’s got nothing to do with why there’s no water in the river.
“The Prime Minister comes out and hands some money out for mental health, but he’s created a third world nation here in the Outback of NSW.”
However, Mr McBride was then offered a chance meeting by Member for Parkes Mark Coulton with the Prime Minister and Deputy PM Michael McCormack inside The Silly Goat cafe in Argent Street.
Afterwards, Mr McBride said he now looked positively on the issue, and that Mr Turnbull was respectable on the issue, and that he’d keep in contact.
“I believe they were listening, I guess the proof in the pudding is in the eating,” he said.
“They did give time and asked genuine questions, and just said ‘look, if you were water minister, what would you do?”
Mr McBride told Mr Turnbull that they needed a unified river system and that they needed to look at where the water is and what the rules are.
“If I’ve got channels coming off the river system at the moment, who’s monitoring what I’m taking?
“They might have pumps, they might not have pumps, who knows where they have pumps.”
Mr McBride said he spoke of the Murray Darling Basin Authority having drained the Menindee Lakes twice in four years, which was of major concern.
He said Mr Turnbull seemed genuine enough, and all they could do was see whether they follow through on their actions and consultations, and get a fair hearing.
“I think it was a win for the people of the Darling River and Broken Hill,” he said.
“For Malcolm Turnbull to come to Broken Hill was brilliant.”