Time is critical for long term water security future in NSW

Call for action: Rod Roberts on the banks of the Murray River in the Southern Riverina District.
Call for action: Rod Roberts on the banks of the Murray River in the Southern Riverina District.

This is sponsored content for One Nation NSW

As NSW continues to be crippled by the effects of the worst drought in a generation, water security continues to be treated as a political football, forever being kicked down the field with the hope that rain will come and fix everything.

We all know this mentality is not going to fix anything. There cannot be one single person in NSW who is satisfied with the water policies in place across our State, and yet water is intrinsic to all our lives.

Late last year the Liberals and Nationals in government introduced the appropriately named Water Supply (Critical Needs) Bill 2019. The Bill fast-tracks the approval process for three new water projects and provides an expedient and yet temporary pathway to facilitate the building of water infrastructure to towns like Tamworth, Dubbo, and Orange.

That is where the niceties regarding this legislation finish. Tamworth, Dubbo, and Orange have a combined population of more than 140,000 residents. They are major arterial locations that support centres for industry, commerce, manufacturing, and education...and they almost ran completely dry.

One Nation voted for the passage of this legislation, as the title made clear the need was critical. However, we are not going to give the government a pat on the back and say, "Well done". This legislation was critical because the government, and the Labor opposition before them, in planning for the water security of NSW, have been asleep at the wheel during their respective tenures.

We are a dry continent with a growing population, and successive governments have done the bare minimum in attempting to keep pace with water infrastructure. In short, what has been done on water security by the two-party duopoly is bugger all.

Since our election in March of 2019, my colleague Mark Latham and I have continued to implore the government not to stop short once again and have worked tirelessly to hold them to account. This government needs to show leadership, and make some hard decisions about water infrastructure in other locations like the Riverina, Griffith, Manning Valley, and the Hunter before they too become critical.

A comprehensive and thorough drought mitigation strategy is long overdue. One Nation NSW will not allow this government or the next, to leave our state ill-prepared once again.

Looking out the windows in Macquarie or Sussex Streets each morning hoping for rain is a strategy that simply does not work. Similarly, it is just as ineffective to offer continued rhetoric, talk and political spin without being prepared to work constructively towards a bipartisan solution.

Water crisis: A rally on the banks of the River Murray calling for action on the Murray-Darling Basin plan.

Water crisis: A rally on the banks of the River Murray calling for action on the Murray-Darling Basin plan.

The security, availability, and most importantly, affordability of water is necessary for agricultural production, boosting regional populations, employment, and, of vital importance to us all, food security, whether it be animal or plant-based.

We cannot keep taking more water from rural NSW, without that having a subsequent impact on food production. We must increase storage capacity. During this current drought, irrigated agriculture was stopped in its tracks. If Australia is to become the food bowl of our neighbours, and if NSW is to take advantage of this enormous economic opportunity, we must have more water storage.

The time has come for innovative leadership and visionary policy for far greater harnessing, storage, and allocation of our precious water resources. That vision may require the building of massive infrastructure. Some will say, "What will it cost?" I say, "What will it cost if we do nothing?"

The same vision and leadership that was shown for the Sydney underground rail network, or the mighty Snowy Mountains Scheme is needed today. Those projects had their share of detractors, those who scoffed and said it couldn't be done or was too expensive. I do not believe those are valid arguments now.

Finding a workable, sustainable and timely solution to water security will enable and support the long term prosperity of NSW. The people of this state expect no less than that from their elected representatives.

The Hon. Rod Roberts MLC is a Member of Parliament in NSW representing Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party. In June of 2020 he was elected to the role of Assistant President of the Legislative Council with the support of the government and members of the crossbench.

This is sponsored content for One Nation NSW.

This story Time is critical for long term water security future in NSW first appeared on Daily Liberal.