Letters to the Editor || Drought package a sham || Simon Kelleher

The drought package released to the public on 18-6-18 has been misrepresented by the government. On page one at item 7, it does not mean that the $50,000 loan can be used for drought relief. This was confirmed to me by a rural financial counsellor from the RAA.

Farmers can build specified infrastructure but they cannot purchase fodder, water  etc. They can use it for transporting the fodder, water etc. but they are not allowed to buy same with the money.

The package is supposed to encourage farmers to build infrastructure, which most already have, but when building infrastructure it is a bit like asking. “How long is a piece of string?” Nobody knows how long the drought will last and how much infrastructure is needed. There is no relief available to deal with the current situation and prevent having to shoot or sell starving livestock.

In summer a cow will drink 60lt per day and in winter it will drink 40lt. Using the lower amount, 150 head will consume 6000lt per day or 42,000lt per week or 2,184,000 annually. The cost of storing that amount and transporting it to the storage will well and truly exceed the $50,000 nominated in the package. 

Most of the hay currently being purchased in the drought-stricken region is coming from Tailem Bend in SA, a return trip of 3000km. The cost of a B-double including hay is $16,000. That amount of hay for 150 grown cattle will last about three weeks. Because the hay/fodder is usually dry matter with little or no protein, feed supplements will also need to be added to the mix. Tailem Bend is rapidly running out of fodder.

With winter upon us, there are no options available to sow winter feed crops such as barley. There is no subsoil moisture whatsoever and even if it rains immediately, there will be no growth until spring.

The package is being flogged around on the media by the NSW government as a package which will allow farmers to use the money as they see fit. In fact, a phone call by me to Anderson’s office last week confirmed this. The opposite is the case. That office has now corrected that statement at my urging but has not yet made a public correction.

The whole package is an abomination which has all the earmarks of having been put together by “brain-dead, box-ticking Orwellian bean counters” and signed off by the government without giving any thought to the consequences. The National party are no longer representing the bush but have become lap dogs to the city-centric Liberal party, who are spending our money on immigrants in the concrete hellhole known as Sydney.

It is significant to note that Turnbull on a recent visit to a drought-stricken farm said: “We hear you and we are listening”. They are still listening, listening, listening. 

Perhaps a couple of thousand head of wild brahman cattle dropped outside Parliament House Sydney might get their attention. I know a few big strapping young Aussies. who have families to feed, who would love to do that, so they enjoy watching the bean counters run around waving their pencils and bits of paper at them.

Simon Kelleher