THE NSW National Party has thrown its support behind the Tamworth branch’s call to review the process that determines when an area is in drought, with some of the worst affected areas still yet to be officially recognised.
The Tamworth branch moved the urgent motion at the party’s state conference, held in Cowra over the weekend.
Tamworth Nationals branch chair Ian Coxhead said while there were a number of assistance packages in place for those affected by drought, many farmers couldn’t access them until their land was officially deemed to be in drought.
“I know some areas on the western side of Tamworth that are still on ‘drought watch’ and ‘drought onset’,” Mr Coxhead said.
“It’s just crazy, they’re out of water and they’re out of feed. There hasn’t been any rain out there for almost nine months, yet they’re not technically in drought in the eyes of the state government.”
According to the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Combined Drought Indicator, 15.2 per cent of the state is in drought, 61.2 per cent is in drought onset and 23.6 per cent is on drought watch.
“We’ve also asked for the process to be streamlined,” Mr Coxhead said.
“It’s been regarded for some time that the information filtering through to the government is taking too long.
“Sometimes before word filters back to the decision makers, up to two months can lapse. A situation can deteriorate a lot in that time.”
Another motion that received universal support, was one calling for autopsies to be conducted in large regional hospitals, such as Tamworth and Wagga Wagga.
Mr Coxhead said despite Tamworth having the facilities, the region’s autopsies were conducted in Newcastle.
“On average, it takes about two weeks to get the autopsy done in Newcastle, so it leaves the family in limbo,” Mr Coxhead said.
“One person got up and talked about how their loved one was held in a morgue for nine months before going to Newcastle.
“We’ve got the facilities here, all we’re waiting for is the funding for staffing.
“That was one thing specifically built as part of the new hospital and it’s about time it was put to use. Tamworth could do the autopsies for the whole of northern NSW.”
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