MP condemns ‘deliberate lies’ linking him to water sell-off
COFFS Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh has been forced to distance himself from the proposed water sell-off from Woolgoolga Dam to blueberry growers.
The Coffs Harbour City Council proposal to sell water to Costa Berries has been put on hold by the State's Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) pending further discussions on Thursday.
Council's access licence states water from the dam can only be used for 'domestic or stock purposes' and it appears the Water Management Act may allow for some interpretation of these terms.
Residents opposing the sell-off have mobilised to form the Save Woolgoolga Dam group and associated Facebook page. Members will be meeting with council this Friday to express their concerns.
With a lack of transparency surrounding the deal (announced in a Council press release on December 12) residents have been left to speculate as to how it all came about.
Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh yesterday took to Facebook to declare: 'I have had nothing at all to do with the council's sale of water to anyone for any purpose - any suggestion otherwise is a deliberate lie. If you have any concerns about this, the council can be contacted on 6648 4000'.
His followers responded with messages of support, including one from former Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser.
"I am very proud to have you as my local member. You are doing a fantastic job and I know how hard you work and the hours you put in. Unfortunately you will always have faceless maggots criticising you, the best idea is to keep doing what is best for our community and try to ignore these grots," Mr Fraser posted.
Mr Singh is a former blueberry farmer and the former chairman and founding director of Oz Group co-operative.
The Advocate contacted Mr Singh about the matter and he reiterated: "it's got absolutely nothing to do with me, it's a matter between Council and Costa".
In relation to the potentially defamatory statements made about him on social media he would not say anything more "in case the matter does go any further".
He praised Council for their foresight in relation to water security as evidenced in the $180 million Regional Water Supply Scheme with water available from Shannon Creek and Karangi Dams.
"Coffs Harbour is lucky to have dams for drinking water that are virtually full and that is in a time of record drought," Mr Singh said.