It's time Sussan spoke up
It is time for member for Farrer Sussan Ley to protect her community, not her political colleagues and career.
We call on Ms Ley, who is also Environment Minister, to provide more support in her senior Government position for those she was elected to represent. While commentary around the failings of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan unfolds, Ms Ley is not providing the representation expected by many in her electorate.
Over the border in the Goulburn Valley, federal politician Damian Drum is acknowledging the Basin Plan is failing and something needs to change. He knows we are wasting over 800 gigalitres a year through evaporation in the Lower Lakes and says something needs to be done about it.
At state government level, Melinda Pavey (NSW Water Minister) and Lisa Neville (Victorian Water Minister) can see the injustice and also want changes to the Basin Plan.
The NSW Deputy Premier has stated the plan is "untenable" and that NSW is "considering its options" but will not allow more water to be taken from its farmers. Yet they are not getting the support we believe is needed from Ms Ley, whose communities are the ones most severely impacted by this plan. She seems more concerned with supporting the federal Water Minister David Littleproud, who refuses to accept that his precious plan is a failure. Everyone else can see this, so we must ask: Is Mr Littleproud trying to protect his career or the standing of his party in South Australia? Why else would he be so stubborn in his protection of this disastrous plan?
And why is Ms Ley refusing to call him out? The only reason we can see is that her priority is toeing the party line and supporting a fellow Cabinet Minister, instead of helping her desperate constituents. This approach is especially disappointing because throughout the election campaign Ms Ley focused heavily on water policy and described this issue as 'the one she thinks about first thing every morning'.
As the crisis worsens in the Southern Riverina, Ms Ley has been conspicuous by her absence. When was the last time she visited Deniliquin and spoke with local stakeholders about their concerns? When did she sit down with knowledgeable locals to discuss the solutions they believe exist? We appreciate that it's a huge electorate and the local member has limited time and lots to do, especially now she also has the environment portfolio. But surely speaking out and demanding a better deal for the people she represents is not too much to ask?
Surely calling out the Water Minister, as others on both sides of politics have been prepared to do, and seeking positive changes to the Basin Plan is also not too much to ask? Our communities were promised a fair and balanced plan that would be flexible and adaptive. It's not fair, balanced, or flexible; and neither is the Minister in charge of its implementation. This needs to be addressed to protect our communities, and Ms Ley should be at the forefront and fighting for her people.