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The fight is on

Tuesday, 17th April, 2018

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Water, Chris Minns and the Greens’ water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham with some “pure Darling River” drinking water at last night’s meeting. PICTURE: Emily Roberts Labor’s Shadow Minister for Water, Chris Minns and the Greens’ water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham with some “pure Darling River” drinking water at last night’s meeting. PICTURE: Emily Roberts

By Emily Roberts

It’s time to speak with your vote. 

That was the consensus at last night’s water meeting as Labor’s Shadow Minister for Water, Chris Minns and the Greens’ water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham visited the city to meet with locals.

The pair agreed that the water crisis in the region was a ripe reminder that a change in Government was needed, especially with a state election in 12 months.

Greens’ water spokesman, Jeremy Buckingham, said the Barwon electorate has the power to change who was in charge in the state government.

“Barwon could be the electorate to knock the Nationals out,” he said.

He also stated it was time to put measures in place to protect the river.

“We need to be pushing for rights to have the Darling River enshrined in law which will allow the Darling to flow forever.

“That way action groups can take it through the courts and defend the river from being abused.

“This issue (alleged water theft) has been one of the biggest scandals and it should be kept at the front and centre of any election campaign.

“There is now a $500 million panic pipeline that was paid from profits from the power poles and lines and it’s a pipeline the region didn’t need.

“Now all of a sudden, they have found 30 gigalitres to send down in an environmental flow.

“But they couldn’t do it a few years ago.”

Mr Buckingham said it was important to have a say during the election.

“(State Water Minister) Niall Blair is useless, he will say whatever and has used rubbery figures for the Ombudsman’s Inquiry and Mathews’ Inquiry.

“He thinks the people in Western NSW will vote for the Nationals no matter what.

“Everyone is now paying attention and we will keep fighting for Broken Hill, Menindee, the Barkindji people and the Darling River.”

Mayor Darriea Turley said the recent environmental flow announcement was just another political tactic.

“These releases are too little too late, it was just done to encourage the vote for the National Party,” she said last night.

“I know people often feel that we aren’t being listened to but we have Jeremy and Chris here.

“We may have lost the fight for the pipeline, but we haven’t lost the fight for the Darling.

“The State Government will dazzle you with data and say there is always a drought or no flows but we don’t have to put up with it.

“We have to fight now.”

Tolarno Station’s Rob McBride said the Nationals are now scared of how badly their reputation has been damaged.

“They are scared to death of the damage to their name,” he said.

“They are scared of what this state’s Nationals are doing to their national name.

“This means the community is gaining power and your voices are being heard.”

Mr McBride said it was disappointing not to see Minister Blair at the meeting.

“I would have loved to see him here, but you won’t see the Nationals here anymore.”

Mr Minns said there was a spare seat left for Minister Blair.

“We have a spare seat up here, it is empty and it should have been filled by Niall Blair.

“He should be here listening to you and should be explaining his policies.

“The Nationals are saying we are using the Greens Party and the Labor Party to take the fight to the Nationals.

“They shouldn’t be worried about the Greens or Labor, they should be worried about the voters.

“Every time the Nationals say trust us they let us down.

“The only answer is an independent Royal Commission.

“The water minister says we are playing politics, but in that case so is ICAC and the SA Royal Commission.

“The election has come at a fortuitous time; preference the Nationals party last and hit them where it hurts.

“We owe all of you a huge debt for standing up and fighting this issue for so long.

“We have so much gratitude that you brought it to this position.”

Wentworth Council Shire councillor Jane McAllister spoke as a concerned citizen as did local convener of the Far West Greens Eve-lyn Kennedy.

Almost 90 people attended the meeting and were all vocal on the issues surrounding the region when it came to water.

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