Drought-hit farmers in East Gippsland have explained their plight to State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.
Mr Guy was in East Gippsland with local Nationals MP Tim Bull and attended the cattle sale in Bairnsdale before a shearing shed forum in Briagolong.
“It’s been good to just sit down and listen. To hear of the hardship and what people are going through is hard and it is clear that while these families are incredibly resilient, they need more support than they are getting,” Mr Guy said.
“To put the level of support into perspective, today I drove past wire rope barrier works between Sale and Bairnsdale that are costing $50 million, many of which are adjacent to open paddocks, while the total drought package being offered by Daniel Andrews is $5m.
“The Government needs to do more and needs to act now.
“Tim Bull and Danny O’Brien have kept me acutely aware of the situation and the issues arising from these dry conditions, but getting out on the ground and seeing it and hearing it first-hand really hits home.
"Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh was here a fortnight ago and we discussed this at Parliament last week with Tim and Danny and are looking at some different options of assistance, pending what happens between now and the election.”
Mr Guy said one of the areas that could be looked at immediately was in the area of local government rate relief.
Mr Bull said while some financial supports were recently made available, more needed to be done and some of the easiest support measures were not necessarily financial.
"For a start, one of the things that can be done overnight is to put more resources into processing the applications to control wildlife that are decimating freshly planted crops and destroying what pasture there is,” Mr Bull said.
“Just last week in Parliament we raised it again – and I have raised this on countless occasions over the past five weeks – it usually takes 2-4 weeks, but it is taking 10-12 at present and we need to get that down to 1-2 weeks in this situation.”
Mr Bull said he was grateful for the many farmers who gave up their time to meet with the Opposition Leader whose visit follows that of Nationals Leader Peter Walsh.
Tuesday, September 25, 2018