Mildura Weekly : Friday October 17 2014 Vol 8 No 50
NEWS 05 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2014 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU by BEN PISCIONERI LONG-time campaigner for irrigators’ rights Danny Lee has announced he’ll stand in this year’s Victorian Election, representing the Australian Country Alliance. Mr Lee said he was prompted to enter the Elec- tion fight because he be- lieved the biggest issues fac- ing the district weren’t being addressed, both by other candidates, as well as succes- sive years of government. He said these issues in- cluded irrigation water se- curity, planning, particularly as it relates to the Mildura Older Irrigation Area, police powers and over-regulation of the region’s parks, reserves and river environment. The irrigator of almost 50 years said water remained “unfinished business” for him, despite campaigning for about 15 years to protect irrigators’ rights, and it re- mained a pivotal component for the economic viability of the district. “I’ve been arguing for too many years outside of poli- tics and achieved nothing, so the only way to fix anything, or change it, is through poli- tics in the Parliament, that’s the only way it’s going to happen,” he said. Mr Lee said Government intervention, most recently with the introduction of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, would reduce irrigation wa- ter by 30 percent in the Ba- sin, which translated to mil- lions of dollars being sucked out of Sunraysia’s economy. “Merbein’s already lost just on 30 percent of its wa- ter, Mildura’s lost about 36 percent and Red Cliffs about 32 percent,” he said. “That’s more than 50,000 megalitres that needs to come back into this district to rekindle the older districts back to the productivity they used to have. “If you look at govern- ment figures on that amount of water, water will generate about $4800 a megalitre in economic activity for the re- gion. If you work that out, that’s $240million per an- num that’s no longer coming into the Mildura region. “Under the MDB Plan, with 30 percent less water, where can that water come from to bring it back? The only answer you’ll get out of anyone, and that includes the present government, the present Water Minister and our present State and Federal Members, is the water mar- ket.” However Mr Lee said wa- ter availability and its impact on water prices was likely to make water purchases only possible by corporate farm- ing entities, leaving small- scale growers in an impos- sible position. Mr Lee said this was linked to another issue he would campaign hard on and work for change if elect- ed - planning, particularly as it relates to the MOIA. He said the current plan- ning policy, which limits the land size in farming areas on which dwellings can be built, was putting local ir- rigators at a massive disad- vantage. “We have a planning policy that states quite clearly that it’s deliberately designed to force down the price of the land of existing irrigators to the point where it’s then cheap for someone to come in and buy the lot and establish big farms,” Mr Lee said. • Continued Page 6 STATE ELECTION 2014 Water, planning, police powers on Lee’s agenda • STRONG VOICE: Australian Country Alliance candidate Danny Lee. A GP looking after the health of refugees in Sunraysia has identified little, or no im- munity to hepatitis B among his clinic’s pa- tients. GP Dr Sanati pour, from the Mildura Tristar Medical Group, says Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable disease “so we want to protect our patients and broader commu- nity from infection.” The doctor successfully applied for one of four GSK 2014 Immunisation Grants. “The Hepatitis B vaccine is not offered as part of the Victorian Government’s refugee vaccination program, so I applied for a grant to cover the cost of a program to improve vaccine uptake in this population here,” Dr Sanati pour said. The grant will be used to train a practice nurse in administering vaccines; purchase the vaccines and a new vaccine fridge for the clinic. Some funds will also support ongoing education about the disease in the area, and the benefits of being immunised. “We are thrilled to have secured the grant,” the doctor said. “The $20,000 GSK grant will enable Tri- star Medical Group to increase its vaccines stock, and provide free hepatitis B vaccines for all refugees attending our clinic. “Language and financial constraints are common barriers to accessing health care especially with new migrants so we have tried to overcome both at our clinic,” Dr Sanati pour said. “This Hepatitis B program will have far reaching community benefits – preventing the spread of the disease across the area and reducing the burden on the health care sys- tem to manage people who develop liver cancer from Hepatitis B.” Tristar Medical Group relies on commu- nity partners to ensure it delivers culturally appropriate services. The clinic works with the Sunraysia Mal- lee Ethnic Communities Council, Sunraysia Community Health Services and the refugee health nurses to care for the steady flow of people settling in the area. Dr Mark Amies, GSK Vaccines Medical Director, said the grants were about en- abling local solutions to local problems. 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Friday October 10 2014 Vol 8 No 49
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