Farmers' plea to primary industries minister - demands for drought assistance

A FARMER crisis meeting yesterday at Pilliga passed a vote of no confidence in NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson and passed a resolution to try to get immediate drought assistance in the face of worsening conditions.

The meeting was chaired by Graham McNair of the Pilliga Drought Committee, who said farmers in that district were at their wits’ end with many having been in crisis for months – some for up to 18 months.

Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries told The Leader yesterday that if no rain was received within the next two weeks, he would ask the Regional Assistance Advisory Committee to tour the district on January 20 and advise the minister on action to be taken.

But North West Local Land Services chairman and Narrabri mayor Conrad Bolton, who was a guest at the meeting, said action was needed now.

“The assistance that’s required is immediate,” he said.

“They’re looking for an immediate response: the minister needs to be considering this issue now.”

He said the fact more than 70 people showed up was a “strong signal” people were hurting.

“People who don’t have a farm that faces the river, they’re out of water,” Cr Bolton said.

The farmers want a drought declaration for areas west and south of Wee Waa declared by no later than January 14 and immediate access to begin for farm-management deposits, backdated to July 1.

Gary Wooldridge, coordinator of CommunityLinks for Pilliga and Gwabegar, said people were “very depressed” and in “desperate need”.

“They can’t go on – they don’t know which way to turn, they don’t know what to do with their stock,” he said.

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