Water

Group fears independent vote

By Alana Christensen

‘‘If Sussan Ley is defeated it will mean almost certain defeat of the ScoMo government. That may happen anyway, and if we’re in the frying pan now a Shorten government would be the fire.’’

That’s what former Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Denis Tinkler says about voting for Farrer independent candidate Kevin Mack at Saturday’s federal election.

The Jerilderie farmer is the official spokesperson for a small group of people who have banded together encouraging people not to vote for Mr Mack, calling themselves ‘Irrigators 4 Farrer’.

Mr Tinkler says he doesn’t have anything personal against Mr Mack, but believes the bigger picture of electing an independent as the local member must be explored.

‘‘It’s just about what the possible and even probable outcome would be with a change of government,’’ he said.

‘‘I can do some basic arithmetic and if you take Farrer out of that small majority, it’s unlikely the Coalition will pick up two seats to win it back.

‘‘That means Tony Burke becomes water minister and the buybacks start; it’s as simple as that.

‘‘It’s nothing personal against Kevin Mack, I’ve never set eyes on the guy.

‘‘People don’t want to be fooled into thinking they’re going to get a conservative person who will keep Tony Burke out of the position.

‘‘People need to think about what the likely outcome will be. I’ve heard people say ‘it can’t get any worse’ and I believe it can get worse.’’

Mr Tinkler said it was easy to point fingers at the sitting member, but said a lot of issues around water policy were not the government’s fault.

‘‘I understand people are frustrated and disappointed, but I’m not sure why they blame drought on a government.

‘‘I’m not sure why they blame long-standing rules and regulations on the government because it’s the interpretations.

‘‘The interpretation of the rules are essentially the public servants, which are the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

‘‘I don’t think it would be the NSW or Victorian public servants, it’s fundamentally the MDBA.’’

Mr Tinkler said Irrigators 4 Farrer members were planning to mark Mr Mack last on their ballot paper on Saturday.

‘‘My conscience just wouldn’t let me say ‘we’ll let an independent come in and see how it goes’,’’ he said.

Mr Mack was contacted for comment but none was received before deadline.