1261. Hon JACQUI BOYDELL to the minister representing the
Minister for Water:
I refer to the drought situation
that many pastoralists, particularly in the southern rangelands, currently find
(1) Has the minister engaged directly with
pastoralists from the southern rangelands since January this year to discuss the severe water shortage; and, if yes,
please provide details, including when, where and who with?
(2) Has the
minister engaged directly with the relevant federal ministers to discuss
drought or climate change since January this year; and, if yes, please provide
details of when, where and who with?
(3) Does the
Department of Water and Environmental Regulation have a plan to mitigate the
effect of decreasing rainfall due to climate change specifically for areas such
as the southern rangelands, which are typically drier than the rest of the
(4) If no to (1)–(3),
when does the minister plan on taking action in conjunction with the relevant
stakeholders considering that people are suffering now?
ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:
I thank the member for the question.
I seek leave to have the response
incorporated into Hansard.
The following material
was incorporated —
Minister for Water has written to the Commonwealth Government regarding drought
funding in December 2018 and June 2019. A third letter to the Commonwealth Government agreeing to implement the
On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme in Western Australia
was sent in April 2019. The Minister for Water specifically attended the
Agriculture Ministers' Forum held in Melbourne
on 25 October 2019 to discuss Western Australia's situation. The Forum
was also attended by the Hon. Bridget McKenzie Federal Minister for
Agriculture and the Hon. David Littleproud Federal Minister for Water Resources
It should be noted that the two
Federal Ministers have recently visited Western Australia, neither advised the
Minister for Water of their visits and neither sought a meeting with the
Minister for Water.
The question correctly identifies
that decreasing rainfall in areas such as the Southern Rangelands can be
attributed to climate change. Declining rainfall due to climate change was
identified at the recent Agricultural Ministers Forum as being a direct threat
to agricultural production. An effective response to climate change
requires leadership at the national level which is widely seen as being lacking
from the current Federal Government and the relevant ministers in particular.
The State Government has recently released a Climate
Change Issues Paper, with public comment open until 29 November 2019. The State
Government has committed to releasing a Climate Policy in 2020.
At a state level, groundwater in the inland Gascoyne,
Murchison and Goldfields regions is mainly sourced from fractured rock,
alluvium, calcrete and palaeochannel deposits, which have variable water
quality and yields. Since 2014, the Department of Water and Environmental
Regulation has completed an airborne electromagnetic survey over approximately
52 000 square kilometres of palaeochannels in the Murchison region. The survey
results have been used to identify the distribution of groundwater across the
palaeochannel system, which confirmed that fresher groundwater supplies are
generally in the northern part of the Murchison. This information is publicly
available and may be used by pastoralists to develop water sources.
The 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 for 25 per cent of the cost of eligible on-farm water infrastructure ($25 000 maximum rebate
available), 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