I must say that I have been surprised and disappointed by the extent to which the spectre of parochialism between Orange and its largest neighbours has crept into the debate over the Macquarie River pipeline project.
I really thought we'd moved beyond that in this day and age. The central west is at its best when we all work together.
As disappointing as that has been, it has served to highlight the fact that Orange's water supply must be secured.
The worst possible result from this whole debate would be if no result was achieved.
There may be those who would be satisfied with that, but I am not one of them. Such an outcome is simply not in the interests of Orange.
Whatever your views on the pipeline, the argument that if the project went ahead it would lead to more investment in Orange and therefore less in Bathurst, Dubbo or anywhere else is a leaky one at best.
The federal government has already made it plain that if the NSW government pulls out its funding for the pipeline its own $20 million in funding will disappear. Its money is only for the pipeline. Expecting the NSW government to unilaterally yank its funding out in those circumstances is unrealistic.
There is much at stake and the public expects the matter to be dealt with responsibly and not recklessly. It is an Orange City Council project, and if it wants to pursue other options without the Federal funding and what remains of the state funding, I'm happy to talk – the ball's in its court.
What is clear is that the end game on the pipeline is fast approaching and at some point in the not too distant future decisions are going to have to be made. Orange needs a result out of all of this.
In my own consideration of the issue, the approach taken by some from outside of Orange is proving to be very enlightening and illuminating.
Andrew Gee, member for Orange