MEMBER for Orange Andrew Gee has accused his fellow state members of playing intercity rivalry and politics following their decisions to write submissions objecting to the Macquarie Pipeline.
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole and member for Dubbo Troy Grant both wrote to the department of planning objecting to the $47 million project because of the impact they believe it will have on their constituents.
But Mr Gee said be believes politicians should allow the project to be assessed on its merits free from “political considerations and economic shadow boxing”.
“The worst possible outcome is that political gridlock prevents any solution to Orange’s water problems,” he said.
Mr Gee rejected suggestions from his fellow National Party members that the growth of the surrounding towns would be stymied if the pipeline was to go ahead.
“We’ll never move forward as a central west community with such an outdated approach to regional development,” he said.
“We all have the same wants for ourselves and our kids.”
Both Mr Toole and Mr Grant said it was their responsibility to represent the interests of their constituents and outline their concerns about the pipeline’s impact.
But Mr Gee said the submissions showed no evidence of where the pipeline would affect Bathurst and Dubbo’s water supply or environment and were instead focused on the effect on economic growth.
Mr Toole said there were a number of questions that were yet to be answered by the project’s environmental assesment.
He was concerned the project could impact on Bathurst’s future if the city decides to go ahead with stormwater harvesting or if they’re told they can no longer release waste water into the river.
Mr Grant said he was not convinced the pipeline would deliver an equitable water outcome for all Macquarie River users - especially in drought conditions.
His submission suggested other options such as the expansion of Lake Rowlands as a better long-term solution to resolving Orange’s water supply needs.
Mr Gee still would not say if he supported the project, despite emphasising that he would be happy to meet with Orange City Council if it chose to pursue other options instead of the pipeline.
“The ball is in the court of Orange City Council,” he said.
“We’ve just had the new council election we’ve got to wait and see how they want to proceed.”
Orange mayor John Davis welcomed Mr Gee’s comments but reiterated that the pipeline was the only option.
He said he was surprised the other state members felt Orange did not deserve the same water security as surrounding towns.
Cr Davis said Mr Gee’s approach to the pipeline had mellowed following the council election showing community support for the pipeline.
Mr Gee said the federal government had made it clear that its $20 million funding for the project would be pulled out if the state government did not contribute its $18 million share.