Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed says the Federal National Party needs to exercise its balance of power in the Coalition to extract more assistance from the Liberal Party and Prime Minister Scott Morrison for rural and regional electorates.
“The Federal Nationals are in a very powerful position should they choose to use it,” Ms Sheed said.
“Country people are crying out for help over water and drought policy and they want the National Party to deliver it.”
Ms Sheed said comments made by prominent National Party member Barnaby Joyce last week were a step in the right direction.
“With a majority of one, the Nationals have an incredibly potent position in this government,” Mr Joyce said. “Without the Nationals, there would be no Coalition government.”
The recent example of Moira Shire — partially located in Ms Sheed’s electoral district of Shepparton — missing out on a drought assistance package is one example where the Nationals could exercise their federal power.
“Agriculture workers in Moira Shire have been hollowed out due to the massive loss of dairy farms resulting from mismanagement of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan,” Ms Sheed said.
“Now the shire is being victimised again because they don’t have enough agriculture workers to qualify for assistance. This is an example of the rules working twice against the very people they are supposed to support.”
The Nationals also need to get tougher on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan that rural and regional constituents across the basin contend has worsened drought conditions, according to Ms Sheed.
“I am spending a great deal of time and effort contending with the issue of water within the parameters of being a state member of parliament — but action is also needed at the federal level,” Ms Sheed said.
“Whether it’s damage being done to the Barmah Choke by environmental flows, the ridiculous price of water that is driving dairy farmers to the wall, the questionable science of the Lower Lakes in South Australia, the death of the Darling River, carryover, transparency in the water market, speculators in the water market, flood plain harvesting in the northern basin — there are so many examples of how the plan is failing both farmers and the environment,” Ms Sheed said.
“If Barnaby Joyce and the Nationals are serious about exercising their power to deliver for their constituents, then look no further than their constituents crying out about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Listen to them and fix it.”