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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7827


Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (10:39): Today I want to talk about drought. We all know that virtually all parts of New South Wales are struggling with the drought and 60 per cent of Queensland is also in drought. Thank goodness that Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia are experiencing much better times. Before our great nation became a Federation, we were gripped in drought. For six years, between 1897 and 1903, we had devastating droughts across the nation. Sheep herds fell from 106 million to fewer than 54 million. Cattle numbers fell by 40 per cent. Australia has a deep history of floods and droughts, with, in between those periods, good times, and that's what makes our nation as great as it is. It punches way above its weight in the agricultural field. With a population of 25 million, we are feeding up to 75 million. So it's not always bad news, but we're going through those tough times now. You don't value water till the well runs dry, and it's getting dry in many locations.

We intend to increase our agriculture. It adds $60 billion to our economy, and there is the prospect of that going to $100 billion in another few years. But the drought is real, tragic and devastating. There is a saying that, if things are going well in the bush, the cities will soon follow. There are projects in Flynn that need addressing, and now is the time to do it. We need much more money spent on water infrastructure projects. The Rookwood Weir, as you know, Mr Deputy Speaker Buchholz, has been talked about for many years. The money has been approved by the state and the feds, so now is the best time to get on and get this project going. This will drought-proof Central Queensland along the Fitzroy River. It'll enhance Gladstone's ability in dry times to pump water into the Callide Valley, through an existing pipeline. Cooranga Weir, which has been proposed on the Boyne River south of Mundubbera, has been on the drawing board for many, many years. The old steel pickets have gone rusty from the days when they were put in to mark the location of the weir down at the southern end of the Boyne. This will not only add value for farmers in the Mundubbera area— (Time expired)