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We can’t make it rain, says Deputy PM

By Country News

Despite the ‘‘very unfortunate’’ loss of two Nationals seats during the NSW state election, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack doesn’t appear too concerned about the result being replicated at the federal election.

The Nationals lost seats in NSW Murray and Barwon with two Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party members installed in their place.

NSW Murray candidate Helen Dalton campaigned strongly on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and ultimately won the seat after more than a decade of Nationals members.

But when asked in Shepparton on Thursday whether he held concerns about what that result foreshadowed for the May 18 poll, Mr McCormack said the NSW losses came down to a number of factors.

‘‘It is an unfortunate situation that in some parts of the catchment it has not rained,’’ he said.

‘‘That prolonged drought period has been very, very hard. Particularly for the people along the Darling but also people who live along the Murray and the Murrumbidgee.

‘‘It’s situation where we can’t make it rain; we can put down the policies that are going to help these river communities.

‘‘I come from a river community, I understand the problems and the issues. Let me tell you, the Nationals will address these. We will, and we are doing that.’’

In response to those who have stated they will not vote for the Nationals in the upcoming election as a result of their water policy, Mr McCormack said voters needed to consider the Nationals’ track record.

‘‘Think long and hard about the delivery we’ve done, not just in water but right across the board,’’ he said

‘‘It will rain again.’’

While the federal election is drawing closer, Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum said the real battle was convincing the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to sell some of its remaining water to irrigators.

‘‘The fight is all about us trying to protect our irrigation sectors against the environment’s unquenchable thirst for water,’’ he said.