New England MP Barnaby Joyce said he has grabbed the drought envoy role handed to him by the now Prime Minister Scott Morrison with two hands.
The drought envoy role involves advising the government’s drought recovery efforts, its assistance and recovery for drought-stricken farmers across the country.
Barnaby Joyce said the Federal Government got through the chaos last week and now it’s time to make this show work.
“I wouldn’t like to have an election this weekend or I’d be dusting off the resume,”
“Let’s get some work done, and get this behind us and regain the respect of people by showing that we are working very hard on their behalf and so when I was offered the job as the drought envoy I grabbed it with both hands because I think it’s a message we need to sell that we’re thinking of them and not of us.”
“The biggest thing is we have to have a clear line of sight between the issues that are happening in Gundy, the issues that are happening in Murrurundi, the issues that are happening in Scone, the issues that are happening in Merriwa and what’s happening throughout the Hunter to be quite frank,”
“And where we need feed, making sure the feed reaches the cattle, making sure the water infrastructure is in place, making sure the people are being dealt with in a proper form that deals with their issues, making sure the people are aware of the services and support that’s already provided, coming up with some sort of plan to deal with this drought if it drags on,” said Barnaby Joyce.
He said he was already met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and written to him what he sees as the drought priorities from access to fodder to water infrastructure.
That list includes the strong suggestion to use the water held in the Commonwealth environmental holder to assist farmers who are desperate for it.
“What I would suggest is that this is a natural disaster. In a natural disaster such as a bushfire they don’t come and say can I borrow your water they just come and use it. They don’t say may I use your water to put out this fire it’s just taken, that’s because you have to put out the fire,”
“Well this is a natural disaster and assets such as that environmental water I think have got to be used to deal with this natural disaster so first thing is to try and change to concept that this is just a regular occurrence that you have to manage, which is fair enough this is a one in 100 year event,”
“And you don’t get bushfire once in every 100 years you get them more than that so this is rarer and in some areas more intense than a bushfire.”
When it comes to fodder and the availability of hay and cottonseed, Barnaby Joyce agreed that audit could help farmers on the ground, particularly if the drought drags out for longer than we think.
“I think what we need is an audit of everything, of both the resources and the requirements so an audit of the cattle the sheep, dairy cattle, what we need to get grain crops happening again and also of what resources we have left. Where is the fodder, where is the grain, how do we move it around, is there platforms within the defence force that would assist?”
“How do we coordinate all of this in a better form? The only thing that is going to fix the drought is rain and that’s a higher authority but in the meantime, we can try and mitigate the effects and understanding exactly what your requirements are and exactly what your resources are is a great way of doing that,” he said.
“The drought is the biggest issue in our area, we are at the epicentre of the drought in some places of the New England electorate and the Upper Hunter and the Upper Hunter has been dealing with it for such a long while.”
Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse