Friday, 20 June 2014
I would like to address the issue of drought. Many people will remember that the Prime Minister and the agriculture minister visited my electorate earlier in the year to look at the dire situation of drought in western New South Wales. I have got to say there has been some relief. Indeed, the day the Prime Minister was in Bourke we had 70 millimetres of rain. But there is still a very specific area and unfortunately they are going into their third year. The communities of Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Collarenebri, Goodooga and Brewarrina are still in a dire situation. I was in Lightning Ridge a few weeks ago and the smell of death is in the air as the livestock and wildlife both are dying. I acknowledge that the drought package that was released is being rolled out now and is really much welcome and I am very appreciative of the assistance that I have received. But I am flagging in this place that if this continues on we are into uncharted territory. For a farmer to miss three years of income in a row and have the expense on top of it is truly unsustainable. On 28 June I will be going to Lightning Ridge to meet with those farmers and discuss where we might go from here.