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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 1304 asked in the Legislative Council on 31 October 2019 by Hon Jacqui Boydell

Minister responding: Hon A. MacTiernan
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on

DROUGHT — SOUTHERN RANGELANDS

1304. Hon JACQUI BOYDELL to the Minister for Agriculture and Food:

I refer to the Premier's advice that drought-affected pastoralists in the southern rangelands can access help through the dry season response group.

(1) Who is the chairperson of that group?

(2) Given that the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development website has no information, how do struggling farmers make contact with the group to seek assistance?

(3) Will the minister visit affected pastoralists in person to hear about the challenges they face; and when is the minister likely to do that?

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:

I thank the member for the question.

(1)–(3) I again draw attention to the fact that the previous government had drawn back any meaningful engagement with the pastoral industry and there were no boots-on-the-ground inspections of any meaningful scale that took place during its entire time in government. As part our dry years response, we did a risk assessment of all the pastoral stations and assessed which ones would be most vulnerable because of this. Since July this year, 100 stations have been visited. Indeed, I have written to every single station and all the pastoralists with a full list of all the drought relief that is available—particularly correcting the silly errors being made by Hon Vince Catania, the member for whatever, who has been claiming that we need to declare a drought.

Point of Order

Hon MARTIN ALDRIDGE: Point of order, Madam President.

The PRESIDENT: I think I can predict it: you are going to remind everyone in the house that members should be referred to by their proper title, are you not?

Hon MARTIN ALDRIDGE: Yes, Madam President.

The PRESIDENT: Great. The member should be referred to by his electorate; the minister said, ''the member for whatever''.

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN: Vince Catania, MLA, member for North West Central. I remember Vince from other days, when he used to be in another party and had another title.

The PRESIDENT: Minister, I do acknowledge that sometimes we forget the names of the electorates of members in the other place, so it is an easy slip.

Questions without Notice Resumed

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN: Thank you.

This information that we needed to declare a drought was stopped in 1989. There is no need to declare a drought. The exceptional circumstances that he talked about were forgone in 2008, so that assistance is available. I have to say, I was very surprised: we checked and no questions had actually been asked by Vince Catania until this week. As I said, I have visited many of the pastoral stations out there in the Murchison. We have been putting money in to assist them with cash flow. I would like to table this document. Although we totally acknowledge that it is a very tough season out there in very tough country, I think some of the analysis has been quite wrong. This document demonstrates the difference in the duration of the difficult conditions in the eastern states.

Nevertheless, we have corresponded with all pastoralists. We have set out precisely to all of them all the facilities that are available, and of course we will be meeting with them, as we do regularly.

[See paper 3358.]