Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has welcomed the state and federal governments finally committing $30 million to build a new downstream weir for Wilcannia, but said it had taken too long.
It should not take a tight state and federal election to get action for regional communities on water supplies, he said.
“I was first approached in 2014 by Wilcannia residents about a new weir for Wilcannia and I’ve been pursuing the government about the issue ever since. I’ve raised it in parliament at every opportunity, written to the Premier and the ministers, and educated the community about the great injustice and need for a new weir,” Mr Buckingham said
“A new weir and the weir pool it will create will provide, swimming, fishing, cultural and even small-scale irrigation opportunities for the people of Wilcannia.
“While the Wilcannia weir announcement is a good step forward, it will not solve the systemic problem of a lack of surface flows down the Darling/Barka river due to over allocation to upstream irrigation, mainly cotton.
“The Barkindji people tell me that the Barka is dying. The regular small and medium flows that came down the Darling through Wilcannia have stopped because too much water is being taken up stream.
“While the government is recognising the cultural values of the Darling River, it should facilitate the process to formally recognise the Aboriginal name for the Darling River – the Barka – with a dual naming through the NSW Geographical Names Board.
“The Greens are proud to represent the interests of the people of Wilcannia. They may be far away and isolated from Sydney, but I have made sure that their issues were raised in the parliament time and time again.
“The cynic would note that the government has finally committed money to the project only a few months before both state and federal elections are due. This is exactly why people should vote against the National Party. It’s only when they can’t take the Far West for granted that they pay any attention or grant any funding,” he said.