Rachel Evans, lead Socialist Alliance candidate for the NSW Legislative Council, has joined those calling for immediate support for the Walgett community in North West NSW that ran out of water on January 3.
“The state government is facilitating agribusinesses to siphon off water and leave towns like Walgett dry”, said Ms Evans.
Walgett, home to more than 2000 people and a large Gamilaraay population, has been gripped by serious drought since 2011. People have been forced to use bore water, which contains dangerous levels of sodium.
On January 3, lightening struck the town’s bore water supply and the town was left without any running water on a 39 degree Celsius day. Air conditioners could not be used. Emergency services fixed the bore water supply the next day, but water security issues remain critical.
“The Berejeklian government has done nothing substantial to assist Walgett, which has been suffering through drought. It has not even promised to take Walgett off bore water”, Ms Evans said.
“Instead, Walgett has had to rely on the efforts of community members from Orange and other towns that are delivering vans and trucks of portable drinking water.
“The state government needs to step in now to ensure safe, drinkable water to households.
“The drought has shown up the NSW government’s policy failure: while it prioritises big agribusinesses in the bush over the needs and rights of Aboriginal communities to water and land, the crisis is not going to be averted.
“We need to preserve normal water flows in rivers and wetlands and farmers need assistance to implement low-input sustainable farming practices.
“The crisis hitting Walgett now is likely to spread if serious action to avert human-induced climate change is not taken now.
“We can plan around heat waves and ongoing droughts by investing in water treatment and efficiency technology, renewable energy and decent quality housing in regional communities.
“That would help them better withstand the worst heat waves and drought periods”, Ms Evans concluded.