Member for Farrer Sussan Ley returns to Parliament today for the first sitting since the May election.
Although she successfully defended her seat it was with a reduced majority following a strong campaign for change. In Deniliquin and some nearby communities Ms Ley did not win a polling booth, as electors vented their views on her performance.
From today, we need a local Member who is prepared to do whatever is necessary to get the results this community needs and deserves.
Ms Ley must deliver results, not just talk about them.
The key issue throughout the election campaign was water policy and, as we have said many times previously, our region has been let down badly in this area over the past decade by our political representation.
We have had lots of rhetoric, words spoken with emotion and passion, but not enough action. That needs to change.
The first step in which Ms Ley must show leadership is finding a way to get a general security allocation for Murray Irrigation Ltd shareholders.
“It cannot be done” is simply not an option. Somehow, from somewhere, our region’s farmers need water to grow a crop of rice or feed for the dairy herd; something to ensure they are productive. This may need discussions with state Water Minister Melinda Pavey; whatever it takes, it must happen.
When this is achieved Ms Ley needs to continue working on the long-term changes to the Basin Plan and water policy which must be delivered to underpin this region’s future.
Then, we need more funding for local health services, in particular Deniliquin Hospital.
This needs to have collaboration between state and federal governments, and as such it is imperative that Ms Ley works at both levels to get urgent upgrades underway.
A priority also needs to be funding, as requested by Edward River Council, for a detailed study into whether we need a new hospital on a greenfield site, or significant funding to rebuild the existing hospital.
Mobile connectivity is another area that requires attention. There are too many blackspots throughout this region and it must be addressed.
While we appreciate Ms Ley has a large electorate to cover, and the Deniliquin district is only a small part of what she has to represent, we believe there are pressing issues which deserve the highest priority. An emergency allocation is at the top of that list.
When the next election campaign comes around we look forward to giving Sussan Ley (or her Liberal successor if she decides not to seek another term) a ringing endorsement for restoring our faith in a political system and political representation that has not performed as well as it should for our region in recent times.