Drought summit missed golden opportunity
At the National Drought Summit the Prime Minister made an announcement, including a $15.3 million mental health package — most of this money could have stayed in the government’s pocket had government made good decisions in the first place.
For irrigation communities, poor government policy is a major cause of mental health issues.
The lack of vision for long-term water security shows that the government is totally out of touch with the needs of rural Australia.
Currently the government is spending $13 billion to remove water from the very regions which were established to drought-proof the country.
Now they are spending $5 billion to make rural communities and farmers more resilient.
Right now the Murray Valley in NSW is in a man-made drought, with water in storages yet farmers on zero allocation — a major source of stress emotionally, financially and mentally.
The mental health issues of farmers across the southern basin would have been considerably improved if the government had announced they were spending some of the $5 billion on projects in South Australia to improve the management of the Coorong and Lower Lakes.
Instead of watching the Murray River run a banker at many places, the Murray farmers could be producing food for the rest of the country, rather than stuck on zero per cent and becoming part of the problem.
Unfortunately, the National Drought Summit has missed a golden opportunity.
Rural messages are not getting through to our politicians and it is time to get voices into Canberra who will represent the grassroots and will be listened to. — Darcy Hare Barham, NSW