Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9259

Mr COULTON (ParkesThe Nationals Chief Whip) (10:45): I would like to rise here this morning to speak about the drought that currently has in its grips north-western New South Wales and western Queensland. I would particularly like to talk about the area in western New South Wales that is in the electorate of Parkes. It is an area that is bounded by Coonamble, Pilliga, Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Weilmoringle, Goodooga and Brewarrina.

This particular area is going into its third year of drought now. I would ask anyone in this place, or anyone else, how they could possibly manage to handle not having any income but actually having increased expenditure over a period of that length of time? What we are starting to see now is the devastating effect that this drought is having on these communities. The machinery dealer in Walgett has reduced his staff from 23 down to 10. The real concern is that those people, when it does rain, may not come back. That is a real concern.

I would like to acknowledge in this place the work that the coalition government has done on drought, following on from the visit of the Prime Minister earlier in the year and the great work done by the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce. The Prime Minister did organise some rain and took a lot of relief off in that Bourke area, but unfortunately the rain did not extend across the whole area that he visited. So we have seen around 3,000 farmers now receiving household support and quite a few taking up the concessional loans, and many farmers have taken advantage of the water infrastructure. But there is more to do. There is more to do; I understand that the agriculture minister is organising another visit with some of his senior colleagues to the drought affected area, but this is now in a more-than-100-years drought. This is the worst drought now since white settlement. And indeed, this will be a drought that many farmers will not recover from.

In closing, I have actually written to the Australian Bankers' Association twice. I was not asking for anything major. I understand that they are working well with the farmers and, indeed, there are not that many on the stressed list on their books. I was asked for a bit of a cash donation to help Brendan Farrell, from the south of the state, who has been organising fodder drives and taking hay. He has taken thousands of bales of hay to the north. I thought it might have been appropriate for the Bankers' Association—the individual banks, I should say—to help contribute to some of the fuel for those people who are donating their trucks. As yet, not only a negative response I have not received a reply. I think that is less than satisfactory. (Time expired)