Issues can be solved if govt has fortitude

THERE are two recent local issues that I believe could be easily corrected if the NSW government possessed the fortitude to stand up for its constituents in rural and regional NSW.

1) The price of bulk water and the cost to the Peel Valley users.

The NSW government recently announced a one-year trial of a temporary water-trading scheme in the Peel Valley.

This it hopes will place downward pressure on water prices.

I think that if such a policy looks and tastes like a lemon, then it probably is a lemon and will probably just mask the fact that water prices in the Peel Valley will continue to be the most expensive in the state.

The NSW government says it “can’t do a thing” about the exorbitant cost of water to Peel Valley users, particularly after the ACCC’s recent bulk water pricing determination. Who could do something about it then, if the NSW government can’t?

The state governor, the federal government, who?

Under these frustrating circumstances, you’d be forgiven for thinking NSW water resources were already privatised with that argument.

A postage stamp pricing mechanism is the only fair and equitable method of water pricing across our state.

It is the only method that will address this core cost-of-living issue in the Tamworth electorate.

Hiding behind decisions made by IPART and the ACCC is just acop-out.

The NSW government, which is represented in rural areas by a party that says it is for regional NSW, cannot endorse the current policy, which discriminates against the people of the Peel Valley, forcing them to pay more and making our region less viable and less attractive by discouraging business because of the exorbitant cost of water here, compared to the cost of water elsewhere in the state.

2) Gunnedah Shire Council missing out on Resources for Regions funding again.

This policy has been a miserable failure from the start.

The Western Australian branch of The Nationals has a genuine policy of Royalties for Regions which mandates and returns 25 per cent of royalties back to the regions where mining occurs.

Why don’t we have such a policy?

The WA policy does not frustrate local councils with administrative red tape.

If you are in a local government area where mining occurs, you get money to help maintain your local infrastructure or develop new infrastructure to make the mining regions more attractive to the local residents or potential future residents, to future-proof communities when mining companies pack up and leave.

In stark contrast, NSW has an insipid policy which has delivered very little back to the mining regions of our state or concentrates on particular regions, where some state electorates are considered more at risk than others, such as those in the Hunter region.

This policy will ensure that our rural towns become ghost towns when unsustainable mining practices inevitably cease having debauched productive rural farmland.

Sadly, I have become despondent with the NSW government since Barry O’Farrell accepted and forgot about a bottle of fine wine, departed and was replaced with a bloke who history will demonstrate cares more about economic rationalism, big business and his mates in the merchant banking industry than the average punters in NSW.

Hence the pro-privatisation policies we see driving recent state government policy now which will exacerbate the decline of rural NSW.

Sadly for us all, the poor alternative is still the party of Obeid, Tripodi, Roozendaal, MacDonald and Kelly who cared even less for you and I.

Mark Rodda


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