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Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Page: 3408

Mr DRUM (NichollsChief Nationals Whip) (13:56): Australians are now picking up the newspapers most days and reading about the horrible effects of the drought, and I imagine most people will be saying to themselves: 'I wish there was something we could do about it.' Last weekend, at the Nationals Federal Council, we passed an emergency motion stating that the Federal Council calls on the government to direct the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to trade 300 gigalitres for immediate use by drought impacted communities in Victoria and New South Wales—critical for food production and manufacturing businesses.

At the moment, the minister doesn't have the powers to direct the Environmental Water Holder to do anything, And I think if Australians knew there was so much water available and knew that so much of the pain, hardship and detriment being faced by our farmers in drought could be alleviated by simply having the minister regain the power to control 200, 300 or 400 gigalitres of this environmental water which sits in reserves and is often carried over, then I think most of the people in Australia would want the environment minister or the water minister to have the ability to talk to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and make that water available for our drought-stricken farmers.