‘It is not about me!’ says Donato
Farmers across regional NSW are in a crisis situation and the government needs to deliver immediate and effective drought assistance, says Member for Orange Philip Donato.
The Fishers, Shooters and Farmers’ Party member attracted attention earlier this week when he announced he would be donating his 2.5 per cent parliamentary pay rise to drought charity Aussie Helpers and then challenged other regional politicians to do so.
The move was labelled a stunt by political rivals, but Mr. Donato said he will continue to do whatever it takes to bring the seriousness of this drought to the public’s attention.
“It is not about me; it is about helping farmers,” he said. “I don't know what issue they have, those who criticise me, about bringing this issue to a head in donating money, putting my money where my mouth is to support farmers... it is a small price to pay to help those in need and it is the right thing to do.”
Mr. Donato said the existing drought measures in place are simply not doing enough to address the immediate needs of farmers feeding stock on a daily basis and he again called for the NSW Government to provide freight subsidies for fodder.
“The current system is failing farmers and farmers have been calling out for their freight subsidies, at the very least in the short term, for a number of months now. They've worked in the past quite successfully and there is no reason to suggest they wouldn't work again,” he said.
“...most farmers are struggling just to keep their stock alive, to source fodder, to source water, and we need to look at implementing a strategy that is going to be effective as of now to help them.”
Mr. Donato said farmers are facing an unprecedented dry spell and the worst drought seen in many decades.
“I think they're in dire straits; the situation is desperate, it’s a crisis. We really need to support them and support them now.”
Providing farmers with no or low interest loans is not what I’d consider helpful, for me it’s just creating a bigger noose around their necks. That said, we’re hearing that stock prices are sky-rocketing. Put those two together and it strikes me that if the struggling farmers can feed their stock, get them to market and then get super top prices for them, maybe the finance road is a possibility after all. There has to be a way to bring these two current situations together for mutual benefit.