AMID news NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has bypassed Scone on her way to make a drought-related announcement, residents gathered this morning to express their disappointment.
The Premier has instead faced media in Dubbo to declare the appointment of a new State Drought Coordinator, former National Rural Woman of the Year Pip Job.
Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party Hunter Region spokesman John Preston and MLC Robert Brown met with residents at Elizabeth Park who raised the question “where is Gladys?”
“The Premier went to Dubbo with news of drought relief,” Mr Brown said.
“Farmers wanted cash, but all they got is a well-paid public service announcement.”
Mr Brown said the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party is calling for support for immediate legislated drought relief grants for farmers.
“Farmers across NSW are demanding additional funding and subsidies, but the government isn’t listening.”
The Upper Hunter remains one of the worst drought affected areas in the state.
Local grazier Richard Bell runs 4500 acre cattle property “Belford Park” near Moonan Flat and says the government’s recent announcement of $20,000 low-interest loans through the Drought Transport Fund is not enough.
“The $20,000 is of benefit but it’s still a loan and at the end of the day we have got to pay it back,” he said.
“For a producer like myself $20,000 goes nowhere.
For a producer like myself $20,000 goes nowhere.Richard Bell - Moonan Flat
“I’ve recently bought a load of cotton seed, that was $16,000. I’ve just ordered two more loads of hay from South Australia at a great expense, that’ll be about $13,000 a load.
“So you can see the $20,000 soon gets swallowed up – it’s gone.”
Residents also raised concern over the government’s “inaction on a nearby railway overpass”, “defunding of Upper Hunter Council that’s led to rates skyrocketing by 20 per cent” and “increased household water costs”.
More than 1000 signatures from across the region have been collected to bring to attention resident’s concerns over the cost and accessibility of basic water infrastructure in the Upper Hunter Shire.
The petition, which will be handed over to the NSW government, includes in excess of 500 signatures from Merriwa alone.