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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 8009


Mrs MARINO (ForrestChief Government Whip) (19:25): I'm pleased to be able to speak on the extension of the government support through the Farm Household Support Amendment (Temporary Measures) Bill 2018. It will actually help the farmers who are so affected by drought in New South Wales. Increasing the farm asset threshold is important, as is the lump sum payment of $6,000 per couple. That is really, really important. I'm one of the few farmers in this place. I'm a dairy farmer from Western Australia. In Western Australia, we don't have the same conditions that are being experienced by farmers in New South Wales, but I well understand what it means to sit around the table. I know exactly what would be going on in the kitchens and how difficult it would be. You walk outside and all you see is dust. You look at the sheep or the cattle and all you want to do is feed them and keep them alive. You want to be able to access water as well to keep them alive. I consider what this has done, with the stress that's been added to the farmers and their families. Farms in Australia, and particularly in New South Wales, like much of my state, are family owned and run businesses. The family will sit around the kitchen table and they have to deal with the basics of life. There is no income and they walk outside and see it's out of their control. There is a huge level of stress involved in unplanned and unmanaged change.

As a farmer, I know that the one thing we can't control, no matter how much we do and how good we are at what we do, is the weather, and that's the issue for the farmers in New South Wales. The other thing that I know only too well is that, when it does rain—and there will be people celebrating, as they should, when it rains—it's actually just the beginning. The grass doesn't appear overnight, so the ongoing support that the government is providing is so important to each of those families for the period of time it takes. Even after the rain has actually come, it takes time for the pastures to grow sufficiently for the cattle and the sheep to be able to graze at all. That doesn't happen overnight. How long it takes to get them back onto the grass depends on the actual number of animals that you have on your property. That is what I know will be happening in each of the homes.

I'm particularly pleased to see increased support through the Rural Financial Counselling Service. They do an amazing job. They support these families in so many simple ways. I encourage every family out there: please access and use this service. At this time, you actually need these supports and services. Please take the supports that are there. I'm very pleased to see the feed that is being donated from Western Australia, mostly out of the member for O'Connor's electorate. I see the road trains. Apparently, around 20 road trains have donated hay from WA. Two thousand large square bales were in many ways delivered by the Rapid Relief Team, but often the truck drivers donate their time. They donate their time to bring the feed across to the farmers in New South Wales. I know that the farmers will be extremely grateful to receive every truckload of feed that arrives in New South Wales.