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Tuesday, 26 September 1972
Page: 1144

Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLAND (NEW SOUTH WALES) Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that practically the whole of the north west, the west and the south west of New South Wales is very heavily hit by the worst drought experienced by the State since at least 1946 and that local government organisations, farmers, businessmen and workers in rural districts and country towns are becoming very concerned indeed about the fear of even higher unemployment in these areas? In view of the seriousness of the situation will he request the Government closely to consider making available to New South Wales additional money for drought relief purposes and also to increase the amount of money made available for unemployment relief in these hard pressed local government areas?

Senator COTTON - Yes, I am aware of the problem. 1 have spent over half my life in the far west of New South Wales. I keep in touch with it closely. I know it, the people and the problem. What the honourable senator says is correct. They are in a very bad drought situation. 1 am not sure whether it is as bad as that prevailing in 1946. I think that it can be recalled by honourable senators that in 1946 during the national drought Australia lost approximately 30 per cent of its sheep population. So it can be seen that these are problems of some magnitude. Normally, as the first step in the process whereby the Commonwealth helps in this matter, the local government people and the pasture protection boards have their areas declared as drought areas. Depending upon the level of seriousness of the situation, they approach the State Government to approach the Commonwealth Government. In every case in which this has happened the Commonwealth has come to the assistance of the State Government and, through it, to the aid of local government. When the situation reaches the appropriate point I am quite sure that the Commonwealth will be prepared to listen sympathetically and helpfully as it has in the past.

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