Drought sum­mit missed golden op­por­tu­nity

Shepparton News - Country News - - OPINION -

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

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