Euroa Nationals MP Stephanie Ryan said she was also excited by the opportunity to take over from long standing opposition spokesman and former minister Peter Walsh.
“Peter Walsh has obviously had the portfolio for close to 15 years now and I think he’d need a very compelling reason to give it up,” Ms Ryan said. “He does realise he has a lot of work to do in the Decentralisation portfolio, which has been newly created.
Ms Ryan said she grew up on an irrigated dairy farm, so understood the importance of how water was managed, in northern Victoria.
“The politics of water was the reason I got into parliament in the first place.” She said her key challenge was getting out and talking to irrigators. “I have worked in the water space but my head hasn’t been fully there – I want to get out and hear what people have to tell me,” Ms Ryan said.
Victoria needed to continue making the case around the socio-economic impacts of losing the 450 Gigalitres (GL) of upwater. “I don’t think the Southern Basin, and northern Victoria, can afford to lose more water,” she said. “The impact of that is devastating, not just on the social fabric of the community, but also those irrigators who remain with a bigger cost burden of running the system.
“I will be very focussed on that and making sure the Victorian government is arguing that case and interests of Victorian irrigators are defended, as the Basin Plan progresses.”
Ms Ryan said she was aware of balancing competing demands, from irrigators across Victoria. “Thankfully I only have to balance the needs of Victoria. Someone once told me that if you make everybody a little bit unhappy you have generally achieved the right balance. If someone is really happy, and someone is very unhappy, then typically speaking the balance is wrong.”