Water policy will take centre stage at a forum in Deniliquin on Sunday, with candidates running in the by-election for the NSW state seat of Murray set to discuss key issues in the region.
The Saturday, October 14 by-election will see Nationals candidate Austin Evans, Labor’s Michael Kidd, independents Brian Mills and Peter Robinson, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Helen Dalton and Australian Greens candidate Ray Goodlass stand for election following the resignation of the Nationals’ Adrian Piccoli.
Forum organiser, the Speak Up campaign, said while water would be high on the agenda, a number of other key topics would be covered before residents hit the polls, including the proposed Deniliquin Airport upgrade.
‘‘Our region needs good policy around water, which drives our economies, creates jobs and has to be managed in a way that protects our environment,’’ Speak Up spokesperson Shelley Scoullar said.
‘‘We all know the Murray Valley has been hit hard by political decisions and other deals around water, mainly the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
‘‘The next three weeks provides the region and the candidates with a unique opportunity to tell us how they are going to find the balance which so far has been sadly lacking.
‘‘Our farmers are efficient water users and our region has fertile, productive soils. We also have one of the world’s most efficient gravity feed irrigation systems.
‘‘It is all currently being under-utilised and is at further risk with the basin plan.’’
Mrs Scoullar said Speak Up did not support the extra 450Gl of up-water tied to the basin plan and said the process involving the sustainable diversion limits had been ‘‘unacceptable’’.
‘‘We believe every candidate should give an unwavering commitment that their party will, under no circumstances, support the 450Gl up-water. Nothing else is acceptable,’’ she said.
The forum will allow voters the opportunity to meet the candidates, listen to an address from each candidate and ask questions of the candidates.
The event is open to the public and a barbecue will be provided.
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