NSW Member for Murray Helen Dalton is hoping the coronavirus will be an opportunity for a reset of values within the parliamentary space when it eventually resumes, at this stage sometime in September.
“This has been a wake-up call for us all to show life is not just about the next quick buck and illustrates how we really need to start looking after our own country, especially when it comes to agriculture,” Mrs Dalton said.
“People aren’t rushing out to the shops to buy clothes, they are heading to our supermarkets.”
She said shortages of staples like rice and flour were not the result of people hoarding but rather a direct result of poor water policy and removal of water from irrigated agriculture through the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
“Australia will run out of rice by November and that is not drought related — it is because of poor governance and water management.
“If farmers were given an allocation last year, we wouldn't be running out of rice in seven months time.”
Mrs Dalton said questions around foreign ownership must also be addressed in the future.
“We need to stop selling our farms and business to the highest bidder.
“There is a difference between foreign ownership and foreign investment, and in a worst-case scenario we will end up working for everyone else.
“Water is a great example. Anyone can come in and buy water — it’s easier than opening a bank account.
“You only have to look at the Chinese snapping up all our personal protection equipment; if you think they are going to look after us you might need to think again.”
Mrs Dalton has also made no secret of the fact she wants politicians to declare their water assets
“I introduced a bill to force politicians to declare their water.
“They attacked me, reported me to the ethics committee and stalled for several weeks, and now with parliament shut down my bill will expire and get thrown out.
“And yet everyday Australians applying for Centrelink payments are forced to declare their water assets — what a disgraceful double standard.”
Mrs Dalton recently celebrated her one-year anniversary as an MP, in what she describes as a journey from the sheep yard to parliament.
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party member said she had learned a lot over the past year, and was very much looking forward to shaping the country for the future.
“It has been an incredibly busy year and a huge adjustment.
“I have gone straight into parliament — I look at it like I have inherited a neglected, rundown farm that will take a long time to bring it back up to speed.”