Mildura Weekly : Friday April 4 2014 Vol 8 No 22
www.milduraweekly.com.au 20 Mildura Weekly – 04/04/14 FEDERAL Member for Mallee An- drew Broad has delivered a passion- ate speech to Federal Parliament out- lining the importance of agriculture in Australia. Imploring the Federal Govern- ment to stand by the agricultural industry in tough times – namely drought – Mr Broad drew on his per- sonal experiences as a farmer in the Mallee, while also throwing his sup- port behind a revamped $320million drought assistance package. “Very few times in this House do we see a level of bipartisanship, but this is one issue – standing by people in drought and making sure that they know that the Australian Govern- ment is listening to them and they are being heard – where this is the case,” Mr Broad said. “As a farmer myself, one of the things that I used to wonder about was whether anyone in this place called Canberra had an apprecia- tion of what it was to live through a drought. “My journey has involved farm- ing through many of the millen- nium drought years. You think you can make the right choices, and you think you can make wise choices. “I know what it is like to have a $90,000 interest bill, and to have a wife who is earning $40,000 a year, and because she was earning that $40,000 it precluded us from being eligible for drought assistance. “It is pleasing that in this package we have learnt that you can actually have $80,000 of off-farm income and still receive access to some drought assistance. “It needs to be stated that there are a lot of hard- working partners of farmers who are really battling to put food on the table, and we are really pleased to see that in this initiative they are not precluding themselves from being eligible for farm support. “In a drought there are times that you always remember. One of those times for us was toward what we thought was going to be the end of a drought. “We made a decision that we were going to buy some young stock. “We bought this stock from Tas- mania and we brought them over on the ship. “We had mortgaged ourselves more to afford this, and we put the stock on some water as they were quite thirsty. “It was hot and it was dry, and I went back to my house that night. “That night the stock agent rang up and said, ‘I hope that stock arrived safely? Now you didn’t put them on water did you?’ “And I said, ‘Well, they were thirsty, of course I did’. “He said, ‘No, you know that is the last thing you should do!’ “As I now know, when stock has an empty belly, and you put them on some water, they drink the water, blow up and die. “Soherewewereattheendofa drought, taking a financial risk only to find out that we may have just blown another $40,000 on stock. “We drove down there that night and there was one dead sheep here, another dead sheep there. “I have to tell you, if you want to see pressure on mental health for a young farmer with a big mortgage who has just taken a risk and it has blown up in his face – that was one of them. “I called up my father to bring over some bales of hay. I called my wife on the UHF to come down and they tried to move those stock around the paddock in order to get them to pass that water. “We tried our best and, as irony would have it, a dust storm rolled in. “My wife was at one end of the paddock and I could not physically see her. “If you want to see something that brings a person to breaking point, it’s drought. “What I want to say to the green chamber is that we have people in this place now who have lived it, and in living it you understand it. “We must stand by people through drought. It is easy to have the philosophical argument about whether they are on un-viable land? Should we be farming there anyway? Is this corporate welfare? Now is not the time for that argument. “The time for that discussion is when we are not in drought, when we can sit back with emotion out of the way and discuss how we create a drought-preparedness model. “Something that the Australian parliament has not done effectively yet, and which is the challenge for us. “But the time when people are looking at dry dams, trying to make tough decisions about their own fu- ture and looking at their children, knowing that they want to pass on that farm to them, knowing that their father or their mother has worked hard to pass it on, those are the times when we should say, ‘we stand by you, we believe in what you do, we recognise your contribution to the Australian economy and we are pre- pared to release some community funds – some tax-payer funds – to ensure you have a viable future.’ Farming support vital “This drought package is really about that. We have concessional loans... which buys farmers time to restructure their business. “The one thing that is important when you are talking to people who are in drought is to remind them that it will rain again... there is a future for the Australian agricultural industry. “Never rob people of hope. When people are going through crisis, the one thing they hold onto is hope. “There is a long-term future for those involved in agriculture; there is a long-term future for the northern cattle industry that is getting hit very hard at the moment. “One of the great things in this package is recognition of mental health. In a previous life I was presi- dent of the Victorian Farmers Federa- tion. “I used to say to blokes, ‘when was the last time you changed the oil in your tractor?’ And they would say, ‘well, actually, it has been three months; it has done 470 hours, it is a 500-hour oil change – it is time to do that’. “I also used to ask them when the last time was that they went and had a health check-up. Farmers are no- torious for not getting health check- ups. Mind your health “Your mental health is just as im- portant as your physical health. I say to the farmers who are doing it tough ‘please get up early one morning. Get the jobs done you have to do then go see a doctor. Get your physical health and your mental health checked. You are the most important asset on your farm. You need to look after yourself. The best thing you can do for your family is look after your health. Be a little selfish for a change and look after your mental health.’ “There is no stigma attached to saying you are under pressure and seeking some help. The $10.7million in this support package for mental health is a very good thing. “I have always had a passion in agriculture to ensure that we have young farmers at the end of the drought because young farmers drive the greatest productivity. “Those under 35 are the best pro- ductivity drivers for the country. They are the people we do not want to lose. They are usually the ones who are most in debt. They have taken the financial risk. They have gone out and have grown and endeav- oured. They are the ones who lease additional pieces of ground and try something new. “We have to make sure we look after them. I hope in this drought package we hit the mark to make sure that young farmers stay there because it is not just for their benefit; this is actually for the country’s benefit. “Their productivity is going to drive our export markets. Even in my small, humble electorate we produce $5.3billion worth of exports every year. “If you multiply that right across Australia, the contribution of the ag- ricultural sector is significant. “It is also significant for the sec- ondary workforce in marketing, transport, refining and research and development. “I think the $320million drought package is simply an investment in our future.” Passionate Broad throws support behind $320m drought package The Land Living on Vinnie Rodi with Mildura Agricultural Supplies 486 Benetook Ave (Opposite TAFE) | (03) 5022 8217 Open Monday to Friday 8am-5pm “we deliver what we promise” • Increase quality of fruit • Sustainable increased fruit growth • Increased vigour, faster early development • Increased volume of root systems • Stronger and more extensive root systems SOBEC (SOLUBLE ORGANIC BIOLOGICAL EXTRACT AND COLLOID) CALL IN AND SEE THE TEAM ABOUT THIS EXCITING NEW PRODUCT. SOBEC IS A MICROBIAL SOLUTION THAT CONTAINS BENEFICIAL MICROORGANISMS AND BIOLOGICALLY DERIVED ORGANIC ACIDS. SOBEC PROVIDES THE SOIL/PLANT SYSTEM WITH AN EXTRAORDINARY DIVERSE COMMUNITY OF MICROORGANISMS WHICH RESTORES MICROBIAL RICHNESS TO THE SOIL.
Friday March 28 2014 Vol 8 No 21
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