News

Deni Senate office

By Zoe McMaugh

Perin Davey says she has already submitted a request to have a Deniliquin electorate office if she is elected, as expected, to the Federal Senate.

Ms Davey’s election comes closer every day, and she anticipates a final decision will be known by the end of this week.

Travelling to Deniliquin with Nationals leader and, at the time, Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack on Friday, Ms Davey told the Pastoral Times she had no intention of severing her connection with the local area should she win a seat.

‘‘I have already spoken to the National Party head office and expressed an interest in having an electorate office here in Deniliquin,’’ Ms Davey said.

‘‘Provided that gets approved it is my intention to have an office here and travel to Canberra.’’

Ms Davey and her family live at the iconic property Boonoke, near Conargo, where her husband John Dickie is a farmer.

When meeting with the Pastoral Times on Friday, Ms Davey was sitting of 0.7 of the quota she needs to take a Senate seat.

‘‘They have counted about 90 per cent. I am looking quite healthy with a 0.7 quota, and so all the people who know better than I do believe I will get a seat.

‘‘I am still sitting at number five, still above the Greens, which makes it a much healthier position.

‘‘The time in limbo is difficult, but hopefully it all ticks over the right way; I am ready to hit the ground running.’’

Mr McCormack said he knows Ms Davey will be invaluable to the re-elected Coalition Government if she gets the seat as predicted.

‘‘I am glad Perin is hopefully going to get across the line in the Senate, because southern New South Wales really needs a voice; her voice, her expertise in the water space.

‘‘She will bring that, she will provide that and she will be no shrinking violet.

‘‘Perin is somebody who has lived experience of just what it’s like to have no water allocations, just what it is like to be a business person who understands there are too many empty shop fronts in the main street of Deniliquin, and somebody who understands when farmers are complaining about having no water allocations, they are not just saying it.’’

During his visit Mr McCormack met with the Pastoral Times, Edward River Council and Murray Regional Strategy Group, which presented its latest document, titled ‘Let’s Fix The Basin Plan’.

MRSG members said the objective of the meeting was to develop policy solutions that will underpin the region’s future.

Chairman Alan Mathers said the importance of action to adjust the plan and protect regional communities was impressed upon the Deputy Prime Minister.

‘‘Mr McCormack listened with interest to the issues we raised and agreed to work with us towards finding solutions,’’ Mr Mathers said.

‘‘He also supported our concept of a meeting involving MRSG and the four federal Ministers involved in water policy - himself as Minister for Infrastructure, Minister for Water David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie and Minister for Environment Sussan Ley.

The MRSG highlighted key components of its Let’s Fix The Basin Plan document, being the need to:

●Immediately implement a framework that will ensure no further water acquisition for the environment until a review is completed.

●Engage an independent consultant to undertake a comprehensive review of the Basin Plan’s 35 reviews undertaken to date. The purpose of the review would be to devise an improved process for delivery of the Basin Plan that does not result in further negative social, economic or environmental impacts. The review should be undertaken with genuine consultation and collaboration with impacted communities, to re-build trust.

●A new co-operative and adaptive partnership model for future implementation of a Basin Plan which includes a capacity to incorporate flexibility, new information and adaptive management into Plan decisions.

● The current timeframes for the Basin Plan should be revised, with the Basin Plan to recommence once the comprehensive review of the plan is completed and agreed upon by basin communities and governments.

Mr McCormack attended the meeting with Ms Davey, who he said would be a useful asset in water policy decisions in the party room.

He said while few agree the Basin Plan is a perfect document, he warned against opening it up for further changes and scrutiny.

‘‘Look, it (the plan) is not perfect. But the trouble with politics in Australia is, if you open up the Basin Plan to be tweaked and pulled apart, particularly in the Senate, you might end up with a worse outcome.

‘‘I crossed the floor on the Basin Plan in 2012 to actually put a cap on water buy-backs because I felt as though buy-backs is just a lazy way of taking productive water out of the system and giving it to water icon sites that, in all honesty, sometimes they weren’t always beautiful riparian areas of frogs and fish and birdlife.

‘‘Whenever there was a drought they went dry. But these days they seem to think they should be flooded all the time; overbank flooding.

‘‘And then you have the South Australian Government with a Royal Commission and setting the parameters so narrow they were always going to get the outcomes they got.

‘‘So there needs to be fairness and equity in the system, but it shouldn’t always come at the expense of people who are just trying to grow food and fibre for themselves and to make a better life for their own communities as well.’’

Ms Davey said it is important for stakeholders to know that the government is working behind the scenes, while still meeting the legislative requirements, to achieve the balance they desire.

‘‘There are things the government is doing and if we get them right will actually lessen the negative impacts of the basin plan.The review of the water market is a key one. That review is being conducted by the ACCC, which has coercive powers, so they can demand water brokers and traders give them information.

‘‘That review will be able to tell us, once and for all and with fact, what impact speculators might be having on the market, but also what impact these downstream developments are having on the market and where we need to adjust the rules around that.

‘‘We have the review that was announced specifically into the social and economic impacts, and will hopefully be announcing the panel for that in the near future.’’

Mr McCormack said his visit to Deniliquin on Friday was partly due to insistence by the Pastoral Times, as well as calls from Ms Davey and Member for Farrer Sussan Ley.