The new leaders of New South Wales are being encouraged to visit the state’s Murray region to learn how it can contribute to post-Covid economic recovery.
Premier Dominic Perrottet and Deputy Premier Paul Toole have said they will conduct a tour of regional areas in coming weeks and would “represent people right across the state”.
Mr Perrottet has also said he wants to “give the New South Wales economy the best chance of bouncing back”.
The Speak Up Campaign’s deputy chair Lloyd Polkinghorne says with government support the Murray region can play a more significant role in the state’s economic recovery.
“For nearly a decade we have been hamstrung by poor water policy, and it is a serious issue that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency,” Mr Polkinghorne said.
“We have suffered from economic decline because the agricultural businesses, which are the backbone of our region, have been operating below capacity. At the same time we have seen environmental damage caused by poor water management and a bureaucracy that will not listen to local people or work with our communities to address our concerns.
“We also have a water allocation system that needs urgent overhaul,” Mr Polkinghorne said.
He added various local organisations tried to reach out to former state leaders Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro, but with limited response.
“The frustration around water management in our region resulted in the National Party losing the seat of Murray at the 2019 state election. We thought the Nationals and their Liberal colleagues would realise after this loss that our region was refusing to be taken for granted.
“We have tried to reach out and work with the Government to bring about sensible changes that protect our communities and the environment, but from their end to this point there has been limited appetite for change.
“There is now an opportunity for a new beginning. When the upcoming regional tour takes place we look forward to meaningful discussions that can help set a pathway forward,” Mr Polkinghorne said.
He says taking actions required to build the economic recovery will require input from across the state.
“Food and fibre production has the potential to play a huge role in the recovery, but you can’t grow food without water.
“We want to work with governments to limit the massive waste of water that we have seen over the past 10 years, reduce environmental degradation and return the potential and prosperity that poor government policy has taken away,” Mr Polkinghorne said.