Community and farming groups in southern NSW are angry they have been snubbed, yet again, by a senior National Party parliamentarian.
The NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall was in the Deniliquin region on Tuesday, but failed to meet with farmer organisations that are desperate for help to boost food production.
It follows a visit to the region before COVID-19 restrictions from federal Water Minister Keith Pitt, who likewise did not meet with local organisations.
Speak Up Campaign deputy chair Lachlan Marshall said this latest snub represents a clear direction from the National Party.
“It is obvious that its representatives want to avoid tough discussions on the disasters around water policy and management. For most of them, it’s in the ‘too hard basket’. They know the problems, they know the solutions, but they are not prepared to stand up to Liberal Party powerbrokers and demand our rural communities are protected.
“While making a very rare visit to one of the state’s prime food producing regions, wouldn’t you think an Agriculture Minister would be keen to talk with those who are at the heart of his portfolio?
“But no; he doesn’t want to do that because it would mean having to confront the ‘elephant in the room’ – the fact that he has colleagues who can see the Basin Plan is a failure but do not have the party’s support to demand change for their traditional heartland.”
Mr Marshall said in recent times numerous federal and state Nationals had called out the need to address water management problems, and have publicly stated the problem lies with the Liberal Party which won’t take action because this may threaten marginal seats in Adelaide.
“But the problem is not with the Liberals; it’s with the weak leadership of the Nationals and the willingness to bow to the Liberal Party’s demands instead of standing up for their constituents.
“Our communities are keen to work with National Party members on solutions to the present crisis. However, we can’t do this if they keep sneaking in and out of town without consulting, effectively trying to avoid the problem, as the NSW Agriculture Minister did this week,” Mr Marshall said.