Voters urged to stick with the Coalition

By Cobram Courier

Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum was in Cobram on Friday, urging voters to stick by the Coalition.

Mr Drum said there would be consequences for north-east Victoria if Labor won office on Saturday, especially in terms of the ongoing water crisis.

He believed the Opposition was using images of fish kills as justification for what he believed were policies favouring fish over farmers.

Labor released its Murray-Darling Basin Plan policy earlier this month outlining means of making it easier to transfer water to environmental flows.

It also committed $10 million to help restock fish and establish new hatcheries in the wake of the mass fish kills at Menindee.

‘‘The mainstream media isn’t interested in (the Murray-Darling Basin) because it isn’t the biggest issue in Melbourne or Sydney,’’ Mr Drum said.

‘‘(The mainstream media) is saying ‘isn’t it important to have healthy rivers and healthy fish stocks?’ My answer is ‘it is not, it is nowhere near as important as the health of our people’.

‘‘For Labor to put out a seven-page document on the Murray-Darling Basin and not talk about the farmers, agriculture, dairy, industry or people in the crux of this ridiculous period of drought is spine-chillingly worrying.’’

The seat of Nicholls, formerly Murray, is considered one of the safest in the nation after the Nationals won the seat, by 22.3 per cent in 2016.

While it would take an unprecedented swing for Mr Drum to lose his seat, there are suggestions his margin could be significantly eroded into due to a sense of inaction around water - the most pressing issue in the electorate.

Mr Drum understood why voters, in particular farmers, would be angry with the current state of water.

However, he believed the inaction on the area was down to Labor and the Greens blocking Coalition movements on the issue.

‘‘I totally understand why farmers are angry, I understand I havent fixed the high water prices,’’ Mr Drum said.

‘‘I could stand up like the independents and promise the world, but I would know in my heart of hearts I wouldn’t be able to deliver what I was promising.

‘‘I have been straight, honest and measured when telling people what I think and what I can deliver.

‘‘A Labor government has indicated it has no interest in this area and (if Labor were to be elected) we would have Tony Bourke from Punchbowl in Sydney determining water policy throughout the Murray-Darling Basin.’’