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Graziers raise concerns

Saturday, 11th May, 2019

The new Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW, Adam Marshall opening the Pastoralists Association of West Darling AGM yesterday. PICTURE: Myles Burt The new Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW, Adam Marshall opening the Pastoralists Association of West Darling AGM yesterday. PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Myles Burt

The Pastoralists Association of West Darling yesterday informed the new Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW, Adam Marshall, of their frustration with getting drought assistance and dealing with kangaroos.

Mr Marshall was guest speaker at the PAWD’s AGM and later took questions from graziers. 

PAWD president Lachlan Gall opened the floor and graziers raised their concerns about tackling the large kangaroo population, lowering the kill weights, promoting the market, tax breaks on drought loan repayments and problems with paperwork for aid and subsidies.

They also raised the trialling of longer trucks from South Australia to Broken Hill and asked why a local truck wash hadn’t been constructed after receiving grant funding two years ago. 

Mr Marshall said the kangaroo numbers, combined with the drought, had left many to die of thirst and starvation. He said more kangaroos had perished in the drought than fish had died in the Darling River. 

He said changing kangaroo kill weights was in the hands of the Environment Minister.

On tax breaks for loan repayments, Mr Marshall said he would look into  options with the Commonwealth on loan repayments and a possible federal government collaboration with tax breaks. 

He was later asked whether application grants could be streamlined, considering the farm innovation and farm household allowance funds had been cut down.

“The farm household allowance is a federal government scheme but the farm innovation fund is a state fund and it’s been boosted, it’s now nearly $1 billion in its own right.

“That’s in addition to nearly $700,000,000 in rebates and other subsidies that the State Government are providing.

“A lot of those measures will continue on into the new financial year and I’m working on a number of new measure as well.

“They’ll be some announcements before the end of the financial year about that.

“But I can guarantee all primary producers in NSW that the State Government will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder, not only to get through the drought but to get them back on their feet once we see drought beginning to break.”

One pastoralist said paperwork for drought aid and subsidies took too much time, had many irrelevant questions and pastoralists had to repeat the long process to apply for other areas of aid. 

Mr Marshall said he wanted to address the paperwork issue in his new drought assistance scheme.

“There’s significant privacy considerations and privacy is paramount.

“People’s data is a very personal thing and we don’t want to abuse that.”

But Mr Marshall said farmers and graziers shouldn’t have to repeatedly provide the same information.

“Surely there’s got to be a way if I waive my privacy rights that the State Government can get my information and share it with the equivalent department on a federal level and vice versa.

“I’m very strongly committed to working with whoever is the agriculture minister after the federal election on a way that we can streamline that process.”

On being asked to consider a trail to allow longer trucks to travel into the Far West from SA, Mr Marshall said this was difficult to answer as he is not the Roads Minister. 

The attendee later asked why a grant-funded truck wash hasn’t been built in Broken Hill after being announced two years ago. Mr Marshall said he wasn’t aware of the details but said the truck wash was a Broken Hill City Council responsibility.

“First things first is to sit down with council and talk about it,” Mr Marshall said.

“But if the issue is about not enough money, well funding was granted two years ago - surely someone should’ve raised it by now.”

City Council received $700,000 for the project through the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Truck Washes program but Council’s General Manager, James Roncon, said last month that the state grant was nowhere near enough.

As the new Minister for Western NSW, Mr Marshall described his position as making sue issues affecting the Western regions got the attention they deserved.

“My job as Western NSW minister is to provide a direct voice around the cabinet table to make sure those issue can be a part of those cabinet deliberations.

“I’ll be working with local members of parliament, local councils, communities, community groups, like the AGM I’ve just been at.

“A bit of troubleshooting as well as advocacy for Western NSW, and that’s not to cut across the roles of local members, local mayors or local councils.

“I want to work with those local members to try and achieve good outcomes, good projects and resolve issues in the west.”

Mr Marshall said the PAWD meeting had been beneficial to his task of rebuilding the Drought Assistance Scheme.

“The feedback I got this morning during the meeting, but also before it, sitting down with the president and the members of the council here,” he said.

“The Pastoralists Association has been quite good, it’s reinforced some feedback I got in other parts of the state. It’s given me a few more issues to work on.”

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