FEDERAL member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters recently met with members of Campaspe Shire to discuss issues including connectivity and NBN, water, the Murray Darling Basin Plan (MDBP), energy, transport and regional development.
A significant part of the visit was centred around discussion of the MDBP and the day concluded with a visit to Wyuna dairy farmer Russell Pell who is at the forefront of water efficiency on his 750 cow farm.
Ms Chesters said the visit was successful and she was keen to return.
‘‘It is important to develop better communication and relationships. I find it concerning that Canberra is not listening to the grass roots whether it be telecommunications or water issues, but they need to get better at that,’’ she said.
Ms Chesters said she is passionate about rural communities and the only way to improve her knowledge is to spend time talking to people.
‘‘People with a passion for what they do are infectious and spending time with someone like Russell is a great way to learn because of the practical knowledge he has.’’
Mr Pell said it was great to have somebody from the Labor party show a genuine interest in the community.
‘‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating and it is easy to talk about these issues, but I do get a good feeling that we will be working together in the future,’’ Mr Pell said.
Mr Pell said while farmers across the board have all had to give up water, it was important that process remained as fair and as even as possible.
‘‘There is a lot at stake here and there is more in this than just water — the future of our communities will depend on this outcome.’’
Campaspe Shire mayor Adrian Weston said the shire appreciated the time Ms Chesters spent with them.
‘‘We had some good discussions and many will be ongoing,’’ Cr Weston said.
‘‘We spoke about opportunities for renewable energy and how to unlock the potential for this region. We also spoke about connectivity, transport and regional development and ways to invest and diversify in our economy to ensure enduring economic prosperity.’’
Mr Weston said loss of irrigation water and the consequent loss of productivity was a huge concern for the shire and ways to mitigate the impact were extremely important for the future of Campaspe.
‘‘Water is an extremely complicated issue and it is often the shire level of government that has to pick up the pieces. Once you cross the tipping point things like whole factories close so we need to understand how individual action impacts on tipping points.’’