MEMBER for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said it was disappointing that Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford did not visit drought-affected farmers in South Gippsland during her visit to the region on Friday.
Mr O’Brien said the minister’s failure to visit and the government’s recent drought announcements that excluded South Gippsland showed the government was ignoring the concerns of Gippsland farmers.
“I understand the minister met with farmers at Phillip Island to be briefed on issues affecting the local agriculture industry, but failed to visit farmers in South Gippsland that have been battling dry conditions for months,” Mr O’Brien said
“Labor has so far had a blind spot in its drought response when it comes to Gippsland and more needs to be offered to local farmers by the Melbourne Labor Government.”
Mr O’Brien said South Gippsland was doing it hard, particularly dairy farmers, who had suffered one of the poorest seasons on record in some areas.
“There are many areas running low on water but right across South Gippsland dairy and other livestock producers have been buying in fodder for some time due to the failure of spring and this is costing those farmers dearly,” Mr O’Brien said.
“I speak regularly to farmers throughout my electorate and to banks and rural financial counsellors and whilst the financial situation across the board is not desperate, there are certainly many farms facing increased costs and with an average milk price this is starting to hurt our communities.
“It will take some time for some to fully recover.
“The government should be assisting with water provision for stock in areas such as Yanakie but it could also extend assistance for financial counselling from professional advisors.”
Mr O’Brien acknowledged that croppers in the North West who have suffered two or three failed seasons certainly deserved government priority for special assistance, but South Gippsland should not be ignored completely.
“We are usually a very safe farming area, but the current season has been a poor one and Labor needs to be doing more to support South Gippsland.”