WA farmers, pastoralists ‘forgotten’ as Federal Government tours east coast drought zones
A nationwide drought envoy will return to WA next month amid criticism the Federal Government is paying lip service to the State’s crippling outback drought.
Just one meeting has been scheduled to discuss the future of Australia’s drought fund in WA this month — in the Wheatbelt town of Merredin — leaving some rangelands pastoralists experiencing a lengthy dry spell facing a 3000km trip if they want to attend.
New South Wales will get five meetings and Queensland three. Green Shirts Movement WA spokesman Alan Sattler said the lack of Government attention to WA was frustrating.
“We are the forgotten poor cousin,” he said.
“I don’t understand why they have even chosen to have it in Merredin. Really, we should be aiming at the southern rangelands, Pilbara and Kimberley.
“We can make as much noise as we want but if we can’t get (the Government’s) attention, we have no hope.”
Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson said more meetings were on the cards next month.
“I have spoken with the chair of the committee and he has advised the committee aims to come back to WA in December with the intention to visit two more locations, including a town in my electorate,” he said.
“Various regions in O’Connor are experiencing drought, so it’s important that feedback is heard from stakeholders in those regions.
“I will also endeavour to get to Merredin for that session to listen to feedback and provide my own opinions on this issue.”
Pastoralists and Graziers Association WA president Tony Seabrook said anyone expecting meaningful assistance from the Government would be left disappointed.
“I think it is a box-ticking exercise,” he said.
“If they really, truly wanted to know about what is going on in WA, they would have put a lot more time aside over here.
“For crying out loud, we could speak about this for close on a day.”
Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the State Government would raise this issue with Federal counterparts.
“This is yet another sign of the Federal Government’s overwhelming focus on New South Wales and Queensland at the expense of WA,” she said.
“WA must be deeply embedded in any Federal drought policy to ensure our state gets its fair share of Federal drought funding.
“At the very least, the Independent Committee should host a meeting in the pastoral regions as well as one in the grainbelt to understand the different drying conditions faced in different parts of WA.”
The Merredin meetings will be hosted at 1.30pm and 3.30pm on November 12.
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