Shooters member says Premier has dropped the ball with drought coordinator

Orange MP and Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party member Phil Donato. Photo: Supplied.
Orange MP and Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party member Phil Donato. Photo: Supplied.

The appointment of a state drought co-ordinator has added another level of bureaucracy to government and is a slap in the face to farmers, according to the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party.

Earlier this month Premier Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced Geurie’s Pip Job as the State Drought Coordinator.

Orange MP and Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party member Phil Donato said he was very disappointed to hear the Premier went all the way to Dubbo in drought affected NSW to make an announcement of a political appointment.

“There was no mention of funding, no mention of subsidies, no mention of further assistance. I feel like the Premier’s really dropped the ball here,” he said.

“Essentially what the Premier’s done… is add another level of bureaucracy into the situation.”

Mr Donato said the Government has plenty of money to help farmers.

“They (the Government) can afford to move the Powerhouse Museum 20 odd kilometres, that have cost them over one billion dollars, from one side of Sydney to another,” he said.

“They can afford to spend billions of dollars on knocking down and rebuilding stadiums.

...To to come up to Dubbo to make an announcement that they’ve created a position is a slap in the face to farmers.

Phil Donato, Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party member

“They’ve got money from the Snowy Hydro 2.O sale of $4.2 billion, which we’ve been told apparently is going to regional NSW and to come up to Dubbo to make an announcement that they’ve created a position is a slap in the face to farmers.”

Mr Donato said he believes the new drought co-ordinator role for NSW is a waste.

“You’ve got Ministers with the Minister for Primary Industries in Niall Blair, you’ve got the Minister for Regional NSW in John Barilaro, you’ve got the Rural Assistance Authority, you’ve got the Local Land Service, the Department of Primary Industries, how many levels of bureaucracy in government do you need?,” he said.

“This is just beyond belief that the Premier thinks by appointing a position overseeing drought is going to appease farmers or help farmers. It’s simply not.”

Mr Donato said there are farmers who are doing it really tough.

“A $20,000 low interest loan simply doesn’t cut it. That provides one to three weeks worth of feed for some of these farmers. Then what? They urgently need freight subsidies. That’s what they urgently need, not more bureaucracy,” he said.

Mr Donato said drought was a widespread issue for farmers not just in his Orange electorate, but in Lightning Ridge, Bourke, Coonamble and more.

“There’s some really dire situations out there where people are in and need some real help,” he said.

“And then you’ve got the spin off effects which is the mental health side of things. And it (the drought) has flow on effects to businesses, local communities and the local economy.” 

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, and Lands Mick Veitch MLC said farmers have been struggling with drought-like conditions for some time yet the Berejiklian Government has been caught flat footed and reactive in its approach.

“This hasn’t just snuck up on any one in recent weeks,” Mr Veitch said.

“The Government is taking a band-aid approach - State and Federal Governments should have been more focussed on trying to future proof our primary industries sector by building on the 2013 intergovernmental agreement.

“Rather than blowing a few billion on Sydney stadiums, the National Party should be focussed on effective assistance for farmers and the communities that rely on farm income.”

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