Water

Drum: water policy hurt

By Country News

Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum has admitted water policy played a major role in the Nationals losing seats in the NSW election but hopes it does not result in him losing a seat in May’s federal election.

Mr Drum, who visited Moama voting booths on NSW election day, said it was obvious water policy had resulted in disgruntled residents in the area.

‘‘Water policy is really 80 per cent a state issue and we always knew it was going to cause backlash for the state government,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s a lot of concern and anger about water policy.

‘‘The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party say they can fix the water issue and now they must come good on their promises and fix the water issues in southern NSW.’’

Despite a shift towards minor parties in traditionally safe National seats in NSW, Mr Drum, who is a National Party representative, was not concerned the same would happen in the upcoming federal election.

‘‘Look at what we were able to do with safeguarding the 450Gl,’’ he said.

‘‘We got exactly the result farmers wanted and where we had jurisdiction, we got results.

‘‘I expect to be judged on what I’ve done and I don’t want to be judged on things I have no control over.’’

Despite this, Mr Drum realised water policy would still be an election issue in his electorate.

‘‘I totally understand many farmers are being harshly dealt with right at the moment,’’ he said.

‘‘They can see what’s happened as a result of the plan and, as I’ve been saying for months and months, people in Melbourne and Sydney need to be aware of what impacts it’s having on communities — not just irrigators, but entire communities.’’

Speaking about Shadow Water Minister Tony Burke’s announcement that Labor will remove the cap on buybacks and push to return to the original socio-economic test for the 450Gl of ‘up-water’, Mr Drum labelled the policy ‘‘dumb’’.

‘‘The statement from Tony Burke (on Friday) should send a shiver through every farmer throughout the Murray-Darling Basin. His plan to cast aside the social and economic damage caused to our communities by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and to go after more agricultural water is both callous and dumb,’’ he said.

‘‘This populous policy from Tony Burke is going to be well received by suburban Labor and Greens voters but incredibly damaging to our regional communities.’’