David Landini: The Riverina State is the only Solution.
Claims that the Murray River, Lower Lakes, Murray Mouth and other features of the Murray Darling Basin are dieing are certainly false. These claims have been comprehensively refuted by the likes of Professors Peter Gell, Jennifer Marohassy and John Briscoe and Dr John Conellan, as well as Captain Charles Sturt’s 1831 Journal, and many knowledgeable land owners and irrigators.
While the issue of the irrigated agricultural industry is portrayed as an environmental problem, it actually needs to be recognized as a political problem.
Ultimately, a solution requires a political decision. To achieve a satisfactory solution, the underlying political problem needs to be understood and resolved. Then the political solution can be pursued and hopefully achieved.
Political decisions are made by the majority of members of parliament.
Electorates in N.S.W are based on population with the boundaries decided by the N.S.W Electoral Commission.
There are 93 electorates. 70 of these are within the marked boundary, and 23 are outside.
It can be seen that there is a concentration of electorates in the metropolitan areas of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. This is immediately concerning as the economic and financial interests of the people in the metropolitan areas are distinctly different from those of the people in the non-metropolitan areas. Because of the large number of electorates in the metropolitan areas compared to the small number in agricultural areas, it can be seen that there is only minute political interest in irrigated agriculture in N.S.W.
Regrettably, the political situation is even worse than it appears.
11% of voters within the marked boundary voted for The Greens in 2015, actually winning Balmain and Newtown, and also Ballina in the north of the state..
Greens are generally opposed to primary industry. They are opposed to irrigation, opposed to native timber harvesting and generally opposed to most things except drinking soy milk in inner Sydney.
There are three major parties in the metropolitan area, being Liberal, Labor and The Greens. In elections closely contested by Liberal and Labor candidates, the winner will be decided by the second preference vote of The Greens.
To be elected, Liberal and Labor candidates in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong need to appeal to The Greens voters for their second preference vote.
A rhetorical question. How will a Liberal or Labor candidate fare if he or she says that he will take water out of the Murray River and grow rice in the desert; and allow timber industry workers to cut down River Red Gum trees in a state forest?
Of course, The Greens will vote their second preference to the other candidate, and in a close election, that other candidate will be elected.
This explains why neither Liberal or Labor parliamentarians are pursuing irrigation or timber interests. To be elected, neither of them can contravene the Greens.
Unfortunately, the political situation is even worse again.
National party parliamentarians hold a large number of regional seats. These parliamentarians are in Coalition with members of the Liberal party. The National and Liberal party parliamentarians have a coalition agreement negotiated by these parliamentarians. The agreement is not negotiated by party members or the party bureaucracies. Normally the coalition agreement installs the Liberal leader as the premier and the Nationals leader as the deputy with various ministries awarded to various Liberal and National party politicians.
The base pay for a member of the N.S.W Legislative Assembly is $160,000 p.a plus expenses, with junior and seniors ministers being paid and additional $90,000 an $110,000 plus expenses respectively.
There is a great financial benefit to Nationals politicians in being in coalition with the Liberals.
In a realistic scenario, if the National party approaches the Liberal premier to discuss making water and timber available for productive use, the premier will inform them that this will damage the Liberals politically in the metropolitan areas, and that if the Nationals persist, the coalition agreement will be renegotiated and the National parliamentarians will be deprived of their deputy premierships and ministries and the associated approximately $100,000 p.a.
The potential loss of financial benefit explains the lack of action in support of the irrigation and timber industries by Nationals parliamentarians.
In summary, for political reasons the Liberals won’t contravene the Greens, and for financial reasons the Nationals won’t contravene the Liberals, and what happens to the people the in affected areas is secondary.
Considering the concentration of electorates in metropolitan areas, the people in the seat of Murray can elect a different M.P, but it won’t make any difference. It actually doesn’t matter who gets elected into this seat, whether National, Liberal, Labor, Shooters Fishers & Farmers, or Independent; no parliamentarian is going to either try or be able to change decisions made in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong.
How can a satisfactory political decision be achieved ?
The answer can be found by a process of elimination.
1) Can people be satisfied with letting the issue run its course and hope it ends satisfactorily ? No, this appears a bad option, because the proponents of these problems will not stop until whoever is left here is reduced to whatever pleases the Greens. Whoever is left here will be mere oddities for them to look at while they travel on their holidays.
2) Can political influence be increased in regional areas, or reduced in metropolitan areas? It appears not.
In fact, it appears that a satisfactory political solution cannot be achieved while Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong dominate the state.
The only way a satisfactory political solution can be found is for the inland areas to separate politically from Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. This entails forming a separate state. As a state (for convenience referred to as The Riverina) the Riverina will have the authority to decide on the use of water in that state.
Only as a separate state, removed from the domination of Green orientated politicians in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, can the political numbers necessary to make decisions beneficial to the people in the inland irrigation areas, be achieved.
To ensure the prosperity of the people in the inland areas a new inland state separate from Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong needs to be formed!
An example of a potential boundary encompassing the state electorates of Barwon, Murray Wagga and Albury is displayed.
See more at https://theriverinastate.com.au