Water, service provision and roads funding dominated discussions when members of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFF) visited Cobar last Friday.
NSW Government MLC Robert Brown joined the party’s candidate for Barwon in next year’s state election Roy Butler to meet with Mayor Lilliane Brady and learn more about the issues facing Cobar residents.
Mr Brown said Mayor Brady spoke about the millions of dollars in mining royalties that the Cobar community contributes to the State Government each year and her disappointment
at being unable to secure funding for new
pipes to improve the quality of Cobar’s water supply.
“So when you look at all of that and then you see a photograph of a pipe full of manganese, that’s primarily what she wanted to talk to Roy about,” Mr Brown said.
He said the SFF was campaigning for the State Government to introduce a Royalties for Regions scheme similar to Western Australia.
“Cobar pumps $25million in royalties into the government coffers year after year after year, yet Local Government has to front up and pay for the services that are required to keep those royalties flowing.
“Why would the State Government not just agree to $6million to for a pipeline that’s needed?” he said.
Mr Butler said water was an issue across the whole Barwon electorate.
“Without water out here you don’t have communities, you don’t have towns, so we’ve got to get our water right,” he said.
“We’ve got to have reliable safe water – water is a human right. Why wouldn’t we want to fix it out here?”
Mayor Brady also spoke with Mr Butler about the provision of medical services to Cobar residents.
“There’s obviously services that locals have to travel some distance for and what I have been hearing is that they go and receive those services, and afterwards they’re basically pushed out and that’s it.
“We shouldn’t be doing that to people – that’s not good enough,” Mr Butler said.
Mr Butler and Mr Brown toured a number of communities in the Barwon electorate and said many of the issues were the same from town to town.
“One of the biggest issues I see is that we keep viewing regional NSW through an economic lens, and I think we’ve got to stop that because we have to have liveablility and desirability.
“We have to have people want to come and live in west NSW and the Barwon electorate
“Whilever we’re ripping services, jobs, health services – all those things out of towns, we’re making it less desirable.
“We’re making a place people don’t want to move to, we’re pushing down house prices, we want to make regional NSW a destination of choice for tourists and for residents,” Mr Butler said.
Mr Butler said his visit is part of a “listening tour” of the western region and that he would likely revisit Cobar again in the coming months.
“You’ll be seeing me a lot, talking to people across the electorate, knocking on doors, going into businesses – I want to know what’s happening for anyone I speak to, and I want to be able to document what’s going on for people,” he said.