SRI's political end game

One elected, one to go, says Riverina irrigators head


Water
POLITICAL GAME: Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Chris Brooks says regional voters need to play the political game, to have their voices heard in Sydney and Canberra.

POLITICAL GAME: Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Chris Brooks says regional voters need to play the political game, to have their voices heard in Sydney and Canberra.

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Irrigators join the political game, over Murray Darling Basin Plan

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NSW farmers lobby group Southern Riverina Irrigators chairman Chris Brooks says the first stage of rebuilding the region is complete, with the election of a new member for the state seat of Murray.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party candidate Helen Dalton took the seat with a massive swing, from National Party member Austin Evans.

Read more: Protest vote sees Shooters, Fishers, Farmers in ascendancy

Mr Brooks said the win was the first part of a complex puzzle, which would continue with the election of an independent for the Federal seat of Farrer.

"We took the unusual step of endorsing Helen for two reasons - firstly, her immense knowledge of the complex water issue, and secondly the ongoing refusal of NSW coalition members, including the incumbent Member for Murray, to take decisive steps to fix obvious problems," Mr Brooks said.

"Our members showed on Saturday they understand the direction we are taking," Mr Brooks said.

Read more: Cautious support for plan review

SRI had to play a political game, as the Murray Darling Basin Plan water reforms, had nothing to do with sensible water policy.

"When I took on the role of SRI chair my sole objective was to get more affordable and reliable water for the hard-working farmers I represent," Mr Brooks said.

"It has been taken away by poor water policy and poor water management, and this has to be reversed.

"It has been obvious for a long time that the Basin Plan is about politics, not the environment.

It has been obvious for a long time that the Basin Plan is about politics, not the environment. To fix the plan we have to be involved in the politics. - Southern Riverina Irrigators chairman, Chris Brooks

"To fix the plan we have to be involved in the politics."

Mr Brooks said he believed the local region, served by the state seat of Murray and federal seat of Farrer, had been ignored for too long.

"Now we have to turn our attention to the federal election and throw our efforts behind the Independent candidate Kevin Mack.

"Given our Prime Minister does not appear to take any notice of our sitting Member, Sussan Ley, it appears that our community needs to find a representative who will get heard."

He said it was appalling the Prime Minister had refused Farrer Liberal MP Sussan Ley's direct request to meet with a small delegation from the region so that it could explain to him some of the significant flaws in the Basin Plan.

"Just like we have seen at state level, politicians are ignoring our communities. We say, 'you do so at your peril'.

"Start listening, or we will make our voices heard at the ballot box," Mr Brooks said.

CHOOSE CAREFULLY: Farrer Liberal MP Sussan Ley has urged voters to chose carefully, at the upcoming Federal election.

CHOOSE CAREFULLY: Farrer Liberal MP Sussan Ley has urged voters to chose carefully, at the upcoming Federal election.

Water fighter:

But Farrer Liberal MP Sussan Ley said every vote for an independent would make it more likely Australia would have a Federal Labor government.

"When I walk into the Parliament the Liberal and National parties sit on the left-hand side, on the right-hand side sits Labor and the crossbench," Ms Ley said.

"What that means is a future Labor government can march on your farm, when you're stressed, when you're struggling, make you sell your water, your greatest asset in the food bowl of Australia," Ms Ley said.

Ms Ley said she had fought hard for the Riverina, particularly on irrigation issues, listing the water buybacks cap, the borrowing of water from Snowy Hydro and leadership at the Water Minister's Council.

"It's not true to say we haven't listened - I'm very willing to admit the pace of change and the brutal, unintended consequences, such as the high price of temporary water as we are going into a sequence of dry and average years, means those things demand flexibility."

She said she was also unconcerned about the SFF running a candidate, at the upcoming Federal election.

"That's the brand that seemed to attract most support," she said.

"But I will also work hard to try and convince people not to get caught up in who may run, however appealing they may be.

"Elections are about two competing philosophies, ours and the Labor Party.

'You should choose one of those - independents never have to make difficult decisions and can't deliver a budget.

BUS DRIVER: Farrer independent candidate Kevin Mack says regional voters were in a position of strength at the upcoming Federal election.

BUS DRIVER: Farrer independent candidate Kevin Mack says regional voters were in a position of strength at the upcoming Federal election.

Independent vote

Independent candidate for Farrer, Albury mayor Kevin Mack, told the Barooga Pause the Plan meeting, the Hume weir was seen as the greatest irrigation project, in the southern hemisphere.

"My, my, have the politicians forgotten what it was for," Mr Mack said.

As deputy, or mayor, of Albury City Council for seven years, he said he had been the "driver of the bus.

"I think a lot of our politicians have been passengers on this bus, for too long, the gravy train is about to stop," Mr Mack said.

He said only independents could turn around the situation facing the Riverina.

"It is critical to get off your laurels and head to Canberra and Albury," he said.

"Albury has no problems but will have a critical problem, if Farrer fails.

"Without Farrer, Albury is just another dusty town - 40 per cent of the nation's food comes from this region."

He said voters in the region were in a very strong position.

"Federal Parliament is where they make all the decisions, that relate to outcomes for you and your livelihoods," Mr Mack said.

'We need to make sure there is a democratic voice, in the big house."

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