Adjournment - Drought Assistance

11 November 2015 -  Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) — My adjournment issue tonight is for the Premier. The action I seek from the Premier is to have him visit the drought‑affected areas of Victoria in the southern Mallee and the Wimmera. In asking the Premier to come, I acknowledge that the Minister for Agriculture has visited twice and I acknowledge the fact that she has done that and met with a number of the farmers, but following on from my question without notice to the Premier last month about the drought issues, I would ask him to visit the area and look firsthand at what is impacting on that part of Victoria and particularly some of those more localised districts around Wycheproof, Birchip and Watchem, running down to Donald, where they effectively had a totally failed season last year and they have another totally failed season this year. I think it would be good for the Premier to see firsthand the issues being confronted by those farmers and by those communities.

Last week I travelled through that area when I went across to Warracknabeal. The federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, was there with the local federal member for Mallee, Andrew Broad. The member for Lowan and the member for Mildura met in Mildura with Barnaby about the issues further north in his electorate. I think it would be good for the Premier to come along to do that. In the answer the Premier gave to my question without notice, he talked about the fact that the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, the Minister for Agriculture and the Treasurer were having discussions about what programs could be brought forward to assist those farmers and those communities. It would be good on that visit to the region, if the Premier chooses to come, for him to update the farmers and the community about where those discussions with the state government are up to about what support the state government could put in place in the future to assist those farmers.

Deputy Speaker, as you would probably well know, it costs a lot of money to put in a crop in those grain‑growing areas, and you have people who have invested anywhere from $300 000 and $400 000 up to $1 million for the larger producers in direct input costs into those crops that have failed, and they have now done that for two years in a row. They are under severe financial pressure, and that has a flow‑through effect into the community. That money is not being cycled through the communities. Local jobs will be put at risk in the communities among the people who supply the inputs to those farmers who are in that situation. As I talked about in my question without notice to the Premier, in the last drought the then government had some programs around rate relief and around the fixed charge water rates relief. I know it is quite a big area serviced by the Wimmera–Mallee pipeline, but there is a particular area that is not serviced by the
Wimmera–Mallee pipeline where I know money is being put into a business case. I would ask the Premier to also in his trip, if he goes, include Wedderburn so he can talk to the farmers there about the issues they have with the supply of water.

 

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