DECLARATIONS — PASTORALISTS
1290. Hon ROBIN SCOTT to the Minister for Agriculture and Food:
I refer to the deepening crisis of
water supply in regional Western Australia.
(1) Can a water deficiency
declaration be made in respect of vast areas of pastoral land in regional WA?
(2) If yes to (1), what does it take
for a minister to make a water deficiency declaration?
(3) If no to (1),
is there any other process by which a pastoralist can access emergency water
provided by the government?
approaches has the minister made to the federal government for assistance, and
is she prepared to table those approaches in this chamber?
(5) Does the
minister concede that funds from the federal government's Future
Drought Fund are for research and development purposes and would not assist
pastoralists who desperately need help now?
ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:
I thank the member for notice of the
(1) No. Water
deficiency declaration arrangements in Western Australia relate specifically to
the dryland agricultural region of the state and do not extend to pastoral
areas. These arrangements have been agreed to by successive governments. When a
water deficiency is declared in the agricultural region, the state will cart
water to a central point within a 40-kilometre radius of the affected broadacre
livestock farmers. Given the vast distances and comparative logistical
challenges in the rangelands regions, the carting of emergency livestock
drinking water is not practical or feasible in pastoral areas.
(2) Not applicable.
Department of Water and Environmental Regulation currently administers the
national on-farm emergency water infrastructure rebate scheme, which is
available to all commercial livestock farmers and pastoralists, providing 25
per cent of the cost of eligible on-farm water infrastructure, with a maximum
available rebate of $25 000, to support improved animal welfare and business
self-reliance in managing the challenges of a drying climate. The department
has communicated with and provided application details to stakeholders,
including grower groups, shires, the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western
Australia and individual farm and pastoral businesses.
(4) I have written to Hon Michael McCormack, Hon David
Littleproud and Hon Bridget McKenzie to outline the difficult seasonal
conditions being experienced in Western Australia and our desire to access
funding through the Future Drought Fund for large-scale projects that improve
the resilience and drought preparedness of our farming systems. I table copies
of those letters. The Minister for Water and I also raised the matter directly
with Ministers McKenzie and Littleproud in Melbourne last week.
[See paper 3351.]
(5) The purpose
of the fund is to help farmers and communities to become more prepared for, and
resilient to, the effects of drought and to adapt to changing conditions. I understand
the scope of the fund is broader than just research and development purposes
and would include, for example, projects to restore native vegetation for water
or soil regeneration.