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Monday, 24 February 2014
Page: 539

Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (13:37): I would like to draw the attention of the House to the dire situation facing farmers in Queensland and New South Wales. While some rain had fallen over the weekend on very parched land, there are still large areas that have received little or no rain at all. There is no feed and water for cattle, no water for crops and, as this progresses, there is consequently no income or funds to restock even if it does rain. Land valuations are right down.

The immense impact is heartbreaking. Farmers wake up in the morning to face the harsh reality that they cannot afford to buy feed and cannot afford to transport their cattle. Cattle prices are low and the dollar is still pretty high. Along with the fuel costs and the distance involved in transporting the cattle to market, farmers are really struggling to pay school fees and rates. As a result, there is an increase in the rate of suicides, which is very sad indeed. Labor's ban on live exports was a huge hit on the industry and started the rot.

Why should we care? These are fellow hardworking true Australians suffering a natural disaster of epic proportions and we do need rural communities. Two per cent loans over a 20-year period may be a help to some, but not to all. I urge all members to consider these circumstances.