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Thursday, 21 October 2010
Page: 1190

Ms LEY (9:54 AM) —I wish to bring to the attention of the House the dramatic and extreme rainfall event and the subsequent impact on areas of the Farrer electorate during the latter part of last week. In total, over some four days, small rural communities whose lifeblood so often relies on what comes out of the sky were delivered what we might term locally an unwanted truckload from the heavens. There were widespread falls of between 100 to 250 millimetres—that is, up to 10 inches of rain in the old terminology—unseen in some of these areas for some 30 to 40 years. What exacerbated the impact on the people, farms and townships in Farrer was that this was supposed to be the season when temperatures and rainfall had returned to what we once used to take for granted, a time when gentle rains would be followed by the gradual warming rays of spring sunshine, refreshing local optimism and soothing paddocks ravaged by a long drought.

Our regional and rural members would understand that, when this so often absent subsurface moisture had finally returned this year, our farmers were relying on this delicate balance to continue to fully bring home the bacon. But alas, and again, for some this will not be the season. The mayor tells me that, throughout the towns of the local Greater Hume shire, some 100 homes were impacted significantly, 80 of those inundated. This does not begin to list the hundreds of thousands of dollars in extensive damage to local farmland, homesteads, fencing, sheds and equipment.

In the nearby Lockhart area, there were 93 homes awash, including in the towns of The Rock and Yerong Creek. Crops which were potentially the best yielding in the last 10 years have now been either lost completely or significantly damaged by the deluge. Lockhart’s mayor, who assisted the Rural Fire Service in rescuing some of his own shire residents, tells me there is some $20 million of damage to the local road network alone.

May I take this opportunity to express appreciation and gratitude to each of the local government and emergency services personnel who assisted those in need during the past week. I also want to urge those communities—particularly farmers who are just weeks away from that bumper harvest and householders who have lost personal effects to floods—to find time to seek the available assistance provided by state and federal agencies. I do thank the Attorney-General for quickly announcing the Commonwealth’s intent to provide financial assistance to our local communities. To all those adversely affected by this dramatic and unforeseen event I offer—and I ask my fellow members to also indicate—genuine concern and compassion.