Water

Farmers feel snubbed by Nationals

By Jamie Salter

Community and farming groups in southern NSW say they have been neglected by a senior Nationals MP.

Farmer organisations did not get a meeting with NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall when he was in the Deniliquin area on June 9.

It follows a visit to the region from Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt, who also did not meet with local organisations.

Speak Up Campaign deputy chair Lachlan Marshall said this latest snub represented a clear direction from The Nationals.

“It is obvious that its representatives want to avoid tough discussions on the disasters around water policy and management,” Mr Marshall said.

“For most of them, it’s in the ‘too hard basket’.

“They know the problems, they know the solutions, but they are not prepared to stand up to Liberal Party powerbrokers and demand our rural communities are protected.

“While making a very rare visit to one of the state’s prime food producing regions, wouldn’t you think an agriculture minister would be keen to talk with those who are at the heart of his portfolio?

“But no, he doesn’t want to do that because it would mean having to confront the ‘elephant in the room’ — the fact that he has colleagues who can see the basin plan is a failure but do not have the party’s support to demand change for their traditional heartland.”

Mr Marshall said numerous federal and state Nationals had called out the need to address water management problems recently, and had publicly stated the problem lay with the Liberal Party, which won’t take action because it may threaten marginal seats in Adelaide.

“But the problem is not with the Liberals; it’s with the weak leadership of The Nationals and the willingness to bow to the Liberal Party’s demands instead of standing up for their constituents,” Mr Marshall said.

Mr Marshall said the community was eager to work with Nationals members, if given the opportunity.