‘‘I will walk away from this region knowing we have a lot to do, but we will do it in partnership with the community.’’
That was the pledge last October from NSW Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro after a visit to Deniliquin, during which it had been made loud and clear that there was dissatisfaction with the way the region had been treated by governments, including the NSW Government.
Mr Barilaro has acknowledged more should have done more for the Deniliquin district over many years and made a commitment to try and turn this around.
Unfortunately for The Nationals, not enough was achieved between the October 2018 visit and the March 2019 state election.
When this was coupled with a poor campaign by the party, littered with distractions and failure to address community concerns, the impact was felt at the ballot box. In a stinging rebuke the party which has represented this area for decades was tossed out mercilessly.
Recent events indicate The Nationals have recognised their failings and want to make amends.
Last week Mr Barilaro came out strongly to rebuke South Australia for its failure to work with upstream states in the delivery of a more fair and balanced Basin Plan. Amid increasing calls for NSW and Victoria to withdraw from the plan this was a significant statement from the Deputy Premier and one we hope his Water Minister, Melinda Pavey, takes to next month’s meeting of Water Ministers.
This week funding has been announced to complete the administration centre and museum at the Deni Ute Muster site, and we believe Mr Barilaro was instrumental in ensuring this was delivered.
In the area of health, where there have been major concerns for quite some time, there are signs the Murrumbidgee Local Health District is recognising the existence of Deniliquin. Funding from state and federal governments has been announced for Deniliquin Hospital upgrades, and a new community consultation process is taking place. Hopefully this is the start of serious, ongoing improvement to local health services.
The Deniliquin district is also receiving unprecedented State Government infrastructure funding, with an additional $1.5 million recently announced in round three of the Stronger Communities Fund.
The NSW Government has also promised major funding for regional communities through its Snowy Hydro sale, and we expect our region will be a beneficiary of this money.
So, while the district has had its struggles through a general lack of attention from the NSW Government for too many years, it seems the wheel has turned.
We congratulate Mr Barilaro for giving Deniliquin and our surrounding community the attention it deserves, and encourage him to continue supporting our sustainability and growth.
It’s just a shame it took so long for someone to realise we had not been receiving the attention we deserved.