The Nationals WA have called on the State Government to provide greater support to individual farmers in the Great Southern who are suffering some of the lowest rainfall levels on record.
Member for the Agricultural Region, Colin de Grussa MLC, said the State Government’s recent announcement that the Mt Short area in the Shire of Ravensthorpe had been declared an area of water deficiency was welcome but did not go far enough.
“In Parliament this week the Minister for Water confirmed that the State Government is still carting water to Ravensthorpe, Jerramungup and Ongerup, yet only Ravensthorpe has been granted water deficiency status,” Mr de Grussa said.
A water deficiency declaration can only be granted when five or more farmers have to travel more than 40km to access water for livestock and requires the Department of Water and Environment to cart water to a central point for farmers to access.
“One of the core issues with water deficiency declarations is the amount of leg-work placed on local Shires and farmers to submit an application,” Mr de Grussa said.
“With farm sizes getting bigger, there may not be five farms within a 20km radius.”
Mr de Grussa said the State Government could look to Queensland’s Individually Droughted Property (IDP) scheme as a measure to support individual properties.
“In Queensland, farmers who are affected by 12 months of rainfall deficiency and who have already taken reasonable steps, such as reducing stock densities, can receive subsidies for transport of feed and water and to help restock after the dry season has passed.”
Member for Roe, Peter Rundle MLA, said the State Government had been “shamed into action” after The Nationals WA visited Ravensthorpe with the Federal Minister for Water in March.
“Prior to The Nationals WA raising this matter in Parliament there appeared to be no appetite by the State Government to act, and even now they continue to drag their heels when it comes to supporting our regional communities,” Mr Rundle said.
“While we welcome the water deficiency declaration, there is still much more the State Government could be doing to support communities in the Great Southern who have been doing it tough for almost two years.”
Mr Rundle also condemned the State Government’s recent decision to increase water standpipe fees threefold on 50mm and 80mm standpipes, rising from $2.53 a kilolitre to $8.35 on 50mm and 80mm standpipes.
“Access to this water in a dry season is critical for animal welfare yet the State Government is instead looking to make a few extra dollars at the expense of our farming community,” Mr Rundle said.