Water

Battlelines are drawn

By Country News

Politicians need to wake up, according to Deniboota Landholder Association chair Alistair Starritt.

Mr Starritt said the Nationals were facing a strong swing in the region, and called on them to direct their attention from the northern basin and look south at the problems in the NSW Murray region.

The comments come after Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack visited northern Victoria earlier this month.

‘‘When are the Nationals going to wake up?’’ Mr Starritt said.

‘‘They seem to have two responses to any question about water — it’s either we can’t make it rain, or it’s the drought.

‘‘How loudly and clearly do we have to tell them that the problem is all around poor water management and massive wastage, and that problems in the Darling are a separate issue to those in the Murray?’’

Mr Starritt said the frustration being felt by farmers in the once Nationals stronghold was probably at an unprecedented level.

‘‘They lost the seat of Murray in the (NSW) state election with a massive 27 per cent swing and their Liberal colleague Sussan Ley could be destined for the same fate in Farrer at the federal election.

‘‘And it’s all happening because some of their leaders refuse, for political reasons, to take the necessary steps to fix our water crisis.

‘‘Former (Nationals) leader Barnaby Joyce knows they lost state seats because of the basin plan and wants it reviewed, but Mr McCormack keeps taking the party line.’’

Mr Starritt said the Nationals needed to wake up to the fact there was more to Australia and its food bowl than the northern basin.

‘‘Unfortunately it does not even surprise us any more that the Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader, who hails from the Riverina, cannot even adequately advocate for the water issues being faced in the NSW Murray,’’ he said.

‘‘Are we angry? You bet we are.

‘‘And when we hear political comments from the Deputy Prime Minister that ‘I can’t make it rain’, or when he responds to a question about the Murray River system with what the government is doing in the Darling, our anger just grows more.

‘‘When will our leaders stand tall and provide the real solutions that our communities are looking for?

‘‘They’re not as difficult to find as Mr McCormack might think, but they may take a bit of political willpower, which seems to be sadly lacking.’’