The Riverina Needs to Separate from N.S.W.
Water and timber are state government responsibilities. This presentation discusses these responsibilities at state level, and the politics involved.
There are problems with the irrigation and timber industries that are often portrayed as environmental problems. These claimed problems have been refuted by eminent commentators such as Professors Peter Gell, Jennifer Marohasy and John Briscoe, Doctor John Conellan, very knowledgeable local irrigators and landholders, and Captain Charles Sturt’s historical 1831 journal, and. Yet these refutations have not made any difference to the increasing restrictions on the use of water and timber.
There are actually political problems underlying the claimed environmental problems.
Ultimately, a solution to the irrigation and forestry problems will require a political decision. To achieve a satisfactory solution, the underlying political problems need to be understood and resolved. Then the political solution can hopefully be achieved.
Political decisions are made by having the numbers in parliament.
Electorates in N.S.W are based on population and decided by the N.S.W Electoral Commission.
There are 93 electorates. 70 of these are within the marked boundary, and 23 are outside.
It can be seen that there is a concentration of electorates in the metropolitan areas of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. This is immediately concerning as the economic and financial interests of the people in the metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas are distinctly different. Because of the number of electorates in the metropolitan areas compared to agricultural areas, it can be understood that there is only minute political interest in irrigated agriculture in N.S.W.
Regrettably, the political situation is even worse than it appears.
11% of voters within the marked boundary voted for The Greens in 2015, actually winning the seats of Balmain and Newtown, and also Ballina in the north of the state..
Greens are generally opposed to primary industry. They are opposed to irrigation, opposed to native timber harvesting and generally opposed to most things except drinking latte in inner Sydney.
There are three major parties in the metropolitan area, being Liberal, Labor and The Greens. In elections closely contested by Liberal and Labor candidates, the winner will be decided by the second preference vote of The Greens.
To be elected, Liberal and Labor candidates in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong need to appeal to The Greens voters for their second preference vote.
A rhetorical question. How will a Liberal or Labor candidate fare if he or she says that he will take water out of the Murray River and grow rice in the desert; and allow timber industry workers to cut down River Red Gum trees in a national park ?
Of course, The Greens will vote their second preference to the other candidate, and in a close election, that candidate will be elected.
This explains why neither Liberal or Labor parliamentarians are pursuing irrigation or timber interests. To be elected, neither of them can displease the Greens.
Unfortunately, the political situation gets worse.
National party parliamentarians hold sixteen regional seats. These parliamentarians are in coalition with members of the Liberal party. The National and Liberal party parliamentarians have a coalition agreement negotiated by these parliamentarians. The agreement is not negotiated by party members or the party bureaucracies. Normally the coalition agreement installs the Liberal leader as the premier and the Nationals leader as the deputy and various ministries awarded to various Liberal and National party politicians.
The base pay for a member of the N.S.W Legislative Assembly is $160,000 p.a plus expenses, with junior and seniors ministers being paid and additional $90,000 and $110,000 plus expenses respectively.
There is a great financial benefit to Nationals politicians in being in coalition with the Liberals.
In a realistic scenario, if the National party approaches the Liberal premier to discuss making water and timber available for productive use, the premier will inform them that this will damage the Liberals politically in the metropolitan areas, and that if the Nationals persist, the coalition agreement will be renegotiated and the National parliamentarians will be deprived of their deputy premierships and ministries and the associated approximately $100,000 p.a.
The potential loss of financial benefit explains the lack of action in support of the irrigation and timber industries by Nationals parliamentarians.
In summary, for political reasons the Liberals won’t displease the Greens, and for financial reasons the Nationals won’t displease the Liberals. What happens to the people in the affected areas is secondary.
Considering the concentration of electorates in metropolitan areas, the people in the seat of Murray can elect a different M.P, but it won’t make any difference. It actually doesn’t matter who gets elected into this seat, whether National, Liberal, Labor, Shooters, Fishers & Farmers, or Independent, no parliamentarian is going to either try or be able to change decisions made in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong.
How can a satisfactory political decision be achieved ?
The answer can be found by a process of elimination.
1) Can people be satisfied with letting the issue run its course and hope it ends satisfactorily ? No, this appears a bad option, because the proponents of these problems will not stop until whoever is left here is reduced to whatever pleases the Greens. Whoever is left here will be mere oddities for them to look at while they travel on their holidays.
2) Can political influence be increased in regional areas, or reduced in metropolitan areas? It appears not.
A satisfactory political solution cannot actually be achieved while Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong dominate the state.
The only way a satisfactory political solution can be found is for the inland areas to separate politically from Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. This entails forming a separate state. As a state (for convenience referred to as The Riverina) the Riverina will have the authority to decide on the use of water in that state. The Riverina state will decide what is a State Forest and what is a National Park and what harvesting can take place in either.
Only as a separate state, removed from the domination of Green orientated politicians in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, can the political numbers necessary to make decisions beneficial to the people in the inland areas, be achieved.
Forming a separate inland state is the only way a satisfactory political solution can be made.
An example of a possible boundary is displayed.
The proposal to form The Riverina State needs popular support, and this needs to built from now.
David Landini. 24/9/18. Deniliquin R.S.L.