NEIGHBOURS. Everybody needs good neighbours.
That is why I was surprised to learn that my neighbouring MP's had made submissions on opposing the Macquarie River pipeline project.
The basic themes of their submissions is if the project went ahead, it would lead to more investment in Orange and therefore less investment in Bathurst and Dubbo. Whatever your views on the pipeline, those particular arguments hold absolutely no water.
Economic growth is not a zero sum game, whereby growth in one community has to occur at the expense of another. The reality is that strong economic growth in any of our communities benefits the whole region.
At the end of the day we are all regional Australians and we all need to be working together to make sure that the region gets all of the services that it needs so that we can all grow and prosper together.
Returning to the days of inter-city rivalry on major development issues such as this one, merely acts as a ball and chain around the leg of the whole region.
I thought we had left those days behind us and the communities of the west should be better than that.
When Orange gets a linear accelerator, patients in Bathurst and Dubbo benefit; when the road between Sydney and Bathurst is improved, the rest of the west benefits as well. Economic growth needs to be viewed in this context.
It has always been my belief that the Macquarie River pipeline needs to be assessed on its merits in the cold hard light of day, free from political considerations and the type of regional shadow boxing which we have seen over the past week.
The bottom line in this whole argument is that Orange needs to secure its water supply. The worst possible result out of all of this would be that political gridlock and paralysis means that no result is achieved.
The Federal Government has quite clearly stated that if the pipeline proposal does not go ahead $20 million of Federal funding will be taken off the table.
This project is Orange City Council's project. If, at the end of the day, it wishes to explore other options, then I would be only too happy to talk to them.
The Feds have made it clear that if the NSW Government is not putting its contribution towards the pipeline, their money is going. The community, therefore expects this issue to be debated responsibly and not recklessly.
I am pleased that Orange City Council has decided to raise the dam wall. That is something that should have happened years ago.
Once this assessment process is complete we will have a very clear idea on the impact of what is proposed.
The proposal will not have any impact on the water security of either Bathurst or Dubbo.