Dust storms deepen drought crisis
Howling gales and devastating dust storms have made Gippsland’s drought crisis dramatically worse this week. The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien was commenting after strong winds on Monday and Tuesday blew away top soil from fragile paddocks across the region and most particularly in the Giffard and Seaspray areas south of Sale.
Mr O’Brien said the deepening of the drought crisis heightened the need for the State Government to do more.
“I acknowledge both state and federal Governments have some assistance on the table but they could be doing much better.
“In particular the state government should be offering relief from municipal rates charges. This is something we have been calling for, for well over 6 months and it is supported by the Victorian Farmers Federation and most farmers I speak with.
“Municipal rate relief is equitable across most farmers whose rates bills are often significant.
“Paying off all or a portion of them would go a long way to helping farmers, many of whom are spending thousands of dollars a day just to keep their livestock alive.”
Mr O’Brien said when announcing a poorly received package a month ago the Victorian Agriculture Minister, Jaclyn Symes indicated there could be more support.
“Well, we’re further down the track and the drought has only deepened.
“While this week’s dust storms have further exacerbated the pain being felt by local famers, there’s now an opportunity for the Andrews Labor Government to revise its drought support measures and introduce municipal rates relief.
“I again call on the Premier Daniel Andrews to visit the area.
“It is disgraceful that since the drought was declared by the state government he has visited the Latrobe Valley five times but is yet to make it to any of the drought-affected areas.
“This is not a political thing – he is the leader of government in this state and he should be showing support for our farmers and bringing with him a positive announcement on rates relief that will actually help them get through this drought.”
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, at Giffard on Wednesday, has again called on the Labor Government to deliver rates relief after dust storms this week.