I am responding to the letter published in your paper ‘What has Shooters Party done?’ (Friday, September 22).
In his letter, former Member for Murry Adrian Piccoli criticised your opinion piece that said the best option our region has is to become a marginal seat.
His letter listed a number of projects and grants which he has claimed credit for, however readers must be aware that the funding only became available after long ongoing pressure from the region.
Let’s look at the Murray Darling Basin Diversification Funding — of the $32.5 million available to NSW under the program Edward River Council received $3 million or 9% of the funding, despite the fact that the NSW Murray Valley has contributed 17% of the water returned to environmental flows under the Basin Plan.
This money was only granted following community uproar after Deniliquin received a paltry $150,000 in the first funding round.
I ask our National Party Leaders, what did they do to prevent $80 million a year leaving the district when our Red Gum industry was shut down overnight?
Isn’t it a little strange that they wait until a problematic by-election is announced before promising any action? And it does seem to be a bit of grandstanding to announce a Private Members’ Bill, which will achieve absolutely nothing if it does not have support of the Premier and Deputy Premier.
And what have they done to prevent water worth $120 million a year at the farm gate leaving the district under the Basin Plan?
Mr Piccoli points out that Minister Blair has stood up to South Australia on Basin Plan issues; I say the National Party should never have allowed the situation in which we find ourselves to develop.
Increasingly we are becoming aware of more evidence that the Murray Valley has become the sacrificial lamb in the Basin Plan, under the watch of the Nationals.
Also, although Mr Blair has started “standing up to South Australia”, getting any support from the bureaucrats in his water department for our region is a totally different matter.
We could also ask, what have they done to fix our doctor shortages and the strain on our health system?
As for the $10 million funding under the Deniliquin Council and Conargo Shire merger process, Mr Piccoli is acutely aware that many people did not want a merger, in particular one that was forced on us despite promises there would be no forced amalgamations.
I also believe that although the funding issues are important, they are secondary to the arrogance and bad decisions made by the State Government affecting the long term prosperity of the Murray region, with the most important being the aforementioned Basin Plan and timber industry.
What choice do we have other than bringing about change and shaking up the party which has let us down? Let’s Make Murray Marginal!