ORANGE was the first stop on a national tour which new Greens’ leader Senator Christine Milne hopes will bridge the gap between the party and rural voters.
Senator Milne, fellow federal senator Lee Rhiannon and NSW Upper House MP Jeremy Buckingham met with fruit growers at Nashdale and graziers in Cudal before a civic reception in Orange.
While Ms Milne was well versed in issues facing the fruit industry, she deferred questions about the controversial Macquarie River pipeline proposal to Mr Buckingham.
The pipeline needs state and federal government approval and will be jointly funded by the two if it goes ahead.
Mr Buckingham said it was Greens policy to oppose the pipeline and spend the money on developing alternatives, including an expansion of stormwater harvesting.
“I believe that should have been the first port of call before looking at such a large and expensive project as the Macquarie pipeline,” he said.
Senator Milne said she was aware of Orange’s water challenges.
“I’m very aware of the impacts of the drought in this region and how the community tried to deal with the water needs of the mine and the community,” she said.
Ms Milne said it was also important to emphasise to rural people the importance of dealing with climate change.
“Climate change is real, it’s happening, it’s costing farmers big time,” she said.