News

Letters to the editor

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January 03, 2018

Christmas care

ON A FRIDAY afternoon just before Christmas I was talking to a mature-aged friend of mine who was lined up with her groceries ready to have them put through the checkout at Woolworths, Echuca.

We were chatting away not taking a lot of notice as to what was going on around us until the checkout assistant walked around and took my friend’s items out of her basket and placed them on the conveyer.

We thanked her and she said she was happy to help.

It was nice to witness such caring customer service.

So thank you, checkout assistant, your help did not go unrecognised.

Echuca woman

Roads need more than a website

COUNTRY Victorians don’t need a website to tell us regional and rural roads have been seriously neglected by the Andrews Government.

Labor recently announced a ‘bold plan’ for regional roads, but instead of spending money fixing country roads, Labor has spent money building a website and named it ‘country roads’.

The only ‘bold’ part of Labor’s plan is its absolute determination to ignore the needs of our country communities.

A website won’t fill a pothole.

And it doesn’t fix dangerous road edges.

Daniel Andrews is prepared to spend more than $1.3 billion not building a road in Melbourne, but he won’t invest in fixing our country roads.

Daniel Andrews is a Premier for Melbourne, not for all Victorians.

At the next election, country Victorians will have a choice. More of Labor’s neglect or a Liberal Nationals government that will bring spending back to country Victoria.

Peter Walsh

Member for Murray Plains

Water ministers doing their job

THE efforts of Victorian and NSW Water Ministers to protect their rural communities must be highlighted and recognised.

At the Ministerial Council meeting (in December) Lisa Neville (Victoria) and Niall Blair (NSW) refused to be intimidated by the political grandstanding that we have come to expect from the South Australian Government, and in particular its Water Minister Ian Hunter.

There are good reasons for the combined Victoria and NSW stand, which is quite unusual as they are on opposite sides of the political fence.

Firstly, it has been reported in metropolitan media that South Australia wants an extra 450 gigalitres of water bought from farmers for the environment.

In fact, as written in legislation, under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan this 450GL of what is termed ‘up-water’ only comes into play if there is no negative socio-economic impact on rural communities.

Numerous reports show it will cause significant socio-economic damage, which is a point the South Australians conveniently want to ignore. How South Australia can continue to claim it can be taken from farmers without hurting towns is beyond belief.

If South Australia is genuine in its desire to improve the health of the Murray system, rather than simply taking every drop of water it can get without making an attempt to be part of the solutions, there are several areas it could address including:

Using infrastructure money available under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to improve management of the Lower Lakes and reduce water loss through salinity, including modernisation works to the barrages.

Review the impact of the south-east drainage scheme and take necessary remedial action.

Halt housing developments, including those with intricate man-made channel systems taking water directly from the Murray River

Investigate more effective use of its desalination plant.

Use its environmental water effectively, as instructed by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.

At last it would seem everyone is waking up to the political games, even South Australian Senator and Assistant Water Minister Ann Ruston who last month was so frustrated she claimed SA Minister Hunter had ‘gone back on his word’ and that his government was prepared to ‘blow up the plan for its own political self-interest’.

Ms Neville, Mr Blair and Ms Ruston are among the many people involved in implementing water policy and who are fed up with the South Australian antics.

Perhaps it is time for the architect of the Water Act 2007, Malcolm Turnbull, to step in and try to pull SA into line. After all, it’s this poorly written legislation which instigated the mess we now have.

Shelley Scoullar

Speak Up campaign

MDBP politics intensified in 2017

THE past year has seen Murray Darling Basin Plan politics intensifying following the explosive July 24 Four Corners expose of rorting and slack compliance in the Northern Basin.

Besides triggering seven investigations, that program forced a shift in the dynamic of the MDBP debate.

The previous hegemony of vocal chicken little “anti-Plan” campaigners such as the National Irrigators Council and the GMID Action Group and their sponsors is no longer a given.

Now there is more community and media appetite to accept the need for a robust plan and to challenge and to critique anti-Plan tropes and propaganda.

Plus 2017 saw the exit from the Federal Water Ministry of the populist, reactionary, anti-water recovery Barnaby Joyce.

With his replacement David Littleproud indicating support for an evidence-based approach to water recovery, including support for the 450 gigalitre ‘up-water’ efficiency measures, the stage is set for a more enlightened, considered and conciliatory approach to the MDBP.

Also, the EY study was tabled at the December MINCO meeting in Albury, and indicated, opposite to its intended political purpose, that the up-water measures could generate a net socio economic benefit to irrigators and their districts.

This new year might be a good time for certain irrigator groups to consider the likely rewards of reconsidering their hard-line approach to the MDBP.

In particular, $1.4 million in funding is on the table for up-water efficiency projects, and this funding has solid, official, socio-economic credentials.

The lion’s share of that money, plus a resultant net increase in entitlement and economic activity, is there for the taking by the GMID and its irrigators, and perhaps that is where their efforts should be directed in 2018.

Bill McClumpha

Red Cliffs

Volunteer disappinted over Back Nine

AS a volunteer, at the Back Nine Golf Course in Echuca, I would like to register my disappointment in the Campaspe Shire’s apparent lack of interest in the continued operation of this iconic facility for the residents of Echuca and District and tourists alike.

Approximately twenty community minded volunteers give in excess of seventy hours per week of their time to help provide the opportunity for golfers who, for various reasons, choose to play at this picturesque course.

The attitude of Campaspe Shire in relation to these golfers is there are another six golf courses within the Shire they can travel to, which in my view is ‘‘very insensitive’’.

Should this course cease operation, it would be almost certain that Echuca would become the only town in Australia with a population excess of 5000 to not have a golf course.

It is my view the potential of this nine-hole golf course has been virtually untapped.

The rise in popularity of nine-hole golf throughout Australia is quickly gaining momentum.

I read with interest in the December/January issue of Golf Victoria, an article outlining details of the national marketing campaign ‘‘#Play 9’’ which will be adopted by Golf Australia and all states.

‘‘Nine hole golf is fast, fun and fits into busy lives, whether it’s early in the morning, after work, at weekends or on holiday.’’

Over the past few weeks I have had many golfers, both locals and visitors to Echuca express their bewilderment and displeasure at the prospect of losing their golf course.

Finally, my plea to the Campaspe Shire Council s:- can we find a solution to resolve this issue and continue to provide this valuable sport and recreational facility for the citizens of Echuca and visitors alike.

Robert L Sly

Echuca

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