News Parliament

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS - DROUGHT

Most of New South Wales and in particular the Calare electorate is facing the worst drought in living memory. Farmers are telling me that they're unable to source grain and that if they aren't able to find it urgently they will not be able to maintain their flocks and herds. Because the market is short, prices are skyrocketing. Sadly, some people are making big money off the backs of struggling farmers. I believe there needs to be a coordinated effort to get grain from Western Australia, where it's plentiful, into Central West New South Wales, where it's scarce. I'm told that private enterprise should step in and get the grain there. Maybe it should; it hasn't yet. I'm also told that the New South Wales government is responsible for livestock. Maybe it is. Our farmers don't care about demarcation issues; they just need this grain urgently.

In the first instance I believe there is a role for the federal government to play in getting all the parties in a room together. We can coordinate logistics with the New South Wales government for locating and organising available ships or trains. If private enterprise is unwilling or unable to step up and other governments won't get involved then I believe the federal government needs to underwrite shipments to get the grain over as soon as possible. Farmers are not looking for free grain; they just want a guaranteed supply at a price that doesn't gouge them out of business. Even the prospect of this may help shake grain back onto the market, which is currently being deliberately held back. More drought relief is required, and we need to get it to where it is needed on the double. The future of our country communities is at stake.