Business, water and communications discussed

(From left) Member for Farrer Sussan Ley with Deniliquin Chamber members Paula Rutter, Donna Taylor and Iain Goodway. Photo by Laura Green

The election campaign is on in Farrer, with incumbent member Sussan Ley on the campaign trail across her electorate.

The Albury-based Coalition minister has been visiting towns including Moama, Barooga, Tocumwal and Griffith, to meet her constituents.

Ms Ley visited Deniliquin on Wednesday.

She declined to comment on the criticisms levelled at herself and Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a recent Liberal Party Deniliquin branch meeting.

The motion said the “unprecedented move to intervene and bypass the pre-selection process” which rank-and-file party members usually vote on, did not “protect the rights of members” in Farrer to pick their preferred candidate.

“I don't comment on the deliberations of the Liberal branch,” she said.

“I'm obviously a party member, but not a member of the branch. So I wouldn't seek to comment on their deliberations,” she said.

Ms Ley was reportedly at the Deniliquin branch meeting when its members voted in a majority to criticise her for “the poor action taken by the Prime Minister and accepted by Sussan Ley”.

Ms Ley was facing a challenge from Christian Ellis, who recently moved to Deniliquin with his family.

Her key appeal to Farrer is the benefit of an $800 million mobile phone tower rollout across the country; 11 locations in Farrer, including Deniliquin, are expected to receive new towers.

She is also campaigning on her recent support of water regulation, after allocating Murray Irrigation Ltd with a $35 million grant to upgrade infrastructure in the Murray irrigation region, and $126 million in an off-farm efficiency program in the Murrumbidgee irrigation area.

Despite cynicism from some in the region, Ms Ley says they will be delivered within the next term of government, should the Coalition be re-elected.

“And that's one of the key priorities for me in this campaign, to make sure, and I've had some conversations with the communications minister about how we might get those mobile phone towers working in this region, and it looks very positive.

“And it's a complete game changer compared to how we funded mobile telecommunications before because what these towers will have to be is they will have to be able to be used by Vodafone, Optus and Telstra.

“The government will be providing much more of the funding per tower.”

Asked about a time frame for the construction and what percentage of the bill the Coalition would be paying, Ms Ley did not provide specifics.

She did say a key benefit of the plan was in removing the monopoly one company would have on the towers.

Ms Ley visited representatives of various organisations while in Deniliquin, including Edward River Council and the Deniliquin Business Chamber.

She said the outlook was positive.

“Most businesses are optimistic about the future, and I think that's terrific. But I also accept that people are feeling bruised, coming out of COVID.

“And you just don't wipe away that experience of our border lock downs and Deniliquin being outside the border bubble, you don't airbrush that away with one good season.

Business Chamber president Paula Rutter said the visit left chamber "looking forward to the future“.

“We were just very grateful for the opportunity to meet with Sussan and let her know what the current conditions are in Deni.

“We’re a resilient bunch and we’re always moving forward so onwards and upwards for Deni.”

Ms Rutter said the chamber discussed issues on water policy and the opportunities for new businesses in town.