21 February 2023

'Rexit': Candidate pushes for new Riverina state to break away from NSW

| Oliver Jacques
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David Landini

David Landini flies the new Riverina state flag in Deniliquin. Photo: Supplied.

An independent candidate for the coming state election will campaign on the platform of establishing a new Riverina state that breaks away entirely from New South Wales.

David Landini, a wool broker from the town of Wakool, will run in the seat of Murray – based around Griffith – arguing a large area west of the Great Diving Range needs its own premier and its own parliament.

“In NSW, three-quarters of people live between Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong,” he said. ”That means all the electorates and politicians live there. That is a huge concentration of political power in one small area of the state.

“What this means is that we get shafted … politically, if you want to be elected, you have to appeal to Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong.”

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Mr Landini said Sydney-based decision-making hurt people in towns such as Griffith and Wakool – particularly in regards to agriculture, timber and water.

“Country towns are either stagnant or declining … NSW has placed restrictions on timber harvesting in national parks,” he said. ”That takes out billions every year from the regional NSW economy. The water policies [Basin Plan] also take billions of dollars out of our prosperity.

“In NSW, this is insurmountable – we cannot overcome that domination, no matter who we elect. The question is, do we continue that decline or is there another option?”

Guy with Riverina state flag on roof next to VB logo

We even prefer Victorian beer, says the Riverina state candidate. Photo: Supplied.

The option he proposes is a referendum, whereby people in the Riverina get to vote if they want to break away from NSW to form their own state – similar to the way Great Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016. For this reason, advocates of a separate, self-governed rural region, such as Victorian MP Tim Quilty, have called the idea “Rexit”, though Mr Landini prefers to label the movement “the Riverina state”.

Where both men agree is that regional northern Victoria and southern NSW could join to form a new state, with Mr Landini saying it was a mistake for the Riverina to be lumped in with NSW in the first place.

“Genealogically and culturally, we are more aligned with Victoria. The original settlers in the Riverina came up via Victoria through the goldfields. We are into AFL and most of our beer is Carlton and United Breweries, not any of the NSW beers. All our exports are exported via Melbourne and Geelong. A lot of people here wouldn’t know who the NSW Premier is.”

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Mr Landini said the borders of the proposed new state would need to be finalised, but when you combined areas such as Mildura, Echuca and Shepparton with Wagga, Albury and Griffith, you would have a large area that was culturally and economically well aligned.

“It’s nearly the population of Tasmania – the wealth produced here is actually greater than Tasmania now.”

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Given that Tasmania has its own state government, there’s no reason this area shouldn’t as well, he argues, saying it’s not only desirable but essential to this region’s long-term survival.

“The country areas in NSW lose one electorate, on average, every eight years. If that trend continues, in 60 years there will only be one electorate west of the Great Dividing Range. Once Griffith is in the same electorate as Wagga, it will be hung out to dry, as all the focus will be on Wagga.”

Mr Landini ran as a NSW election candidate for Murray at the last election in 2019 on the same platform, achieving 2 per cent of the vote, but is confident his support will steadily rise.

“I’m standing in the state election to publicise and promote this idea, to put it out in the public domain and give people the chance to vote for it and get a concrete amount of support.”

More information on the Rexit movement can be found on the Riverina State website.

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