‘The people running this council are dopes’: Ben Fordham demands answers over water access stand-off
Residents north-west of Walgett are struggling to survive because they don’t have access to water from a bore – that hasn’t been built yet.
The council was given funds three years ago to build the bore in the nearby town of Cumborah but under the current plans, farmers won’t be able to use it.
“But if Walgett Shire Council did its job, and then ticked a box on a form, these farmers would not be in dire straights,” says Ben Fordham.
Regional Water Minister Niall Blair tells Ben it’s “not a good situation”.
“This has been going on for far too long.”
He says because of licensing, the state government can’t override the powers of the council but it is working with them on a compromise.
“I don’t have the executive powers to come in over the top of the approval authority.
“We need council to grant access to that water through an agreement with the farmers.”
But Ben is demanding answers, asking not if they can give access but whether they are going to give access.
“They’re either going to give access to these farmers or not, which one is it?” he says.
“The money sat in a bank gathering dust for three years as Walgett and surrounding areas have witnessed the worst drought in living memory.
“What further proof do you need that the people running this council are dopes.”
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Dramatic photos show the critical need for water in regional areas