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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Federal Election plan for local members

Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said the Opposition had predicted a September federal election and that her schedule would not be altered by last Wednesday’s announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

February 6, 2013 4:16am

Ms Ley, who still has no idea who will be running against her, said she had ‘‘already hit the ground running on the most important issue to my electorate — water.’’

‘‘I had already planned to do a lot of travel in my electorate.

‘‘I will also continue — in my shadow portfolios of childcare, trade and training — to assist with the development of policies.

‘‘It would be no surprise to anyone that to start the year I am following up on water, including river heights.

‘‘I had a letter from the Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils in particular reference to (low) river heights at Tocumwal over Christmas.

‘‘I wrote, last week, to Murray-Darling Basin Authority CEO Rhonda Dixon to ask for an urgent briefing.’’

While the announcement of a September 14 federal election has not affected Ms Ley’s schedule, Southern Riverina councils say it means they can now start forward planning.

Berrigan Shire Council’s main aim will be to secure Federal Government funding opportunities in the region, according to Deputy Mayor Brian Hill.

‘‘We don’t get enough funding here as it is.

‘‘Our Roads to Recovery program is very important, and we would want to see that continue.

‘‘Regional Development Australia funding is also a big one, considering we’re in the process of the Finley football ground’s restoration.

‘‘We also don’t want to see a change in government derail the plans for a referendum for recognition of local government in the constitution.’’

Jerilderie Shire Mayor Terry Hogan agreed that constitutional recognition was a priority, as it would allow local government a direct share of the national intake.

He said it would provide council with more resources to fund infrastructure, which he said was vital.

Cr Hogan said he would also back Deniliquin Council’s push for a natural gas connection in the lead up to the election.

He said the project should have already been rolled out, and would have been more suitable than projects already implemented by the Federal Government.

‘‘To me, a natural gas connection to all rural and regional towns would have been more beneficial than the National Broadband (internet) Network.

‘‘If we are going to meet the challenge of producing food for the world, natural gas is needed far greater than a one-off technology.

‘‘The NBN does not generate jobs, and we need jobs.’’

To date, there is no word on who may be running against Ms Ley in September.

An independent candidate at the last election, local farmer Louise Burge has already ruled out another tilt at federal parliament.

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