Wingecarribee Shire Councillors have used last week’s Ordinary Meeting of Council to express their concern for the ongoing drought affecting much of the State and have promised to investigate ways to help our local farmers during times of hardship resulting from drought, fire and flood.
The announcement was raised via a series of Notices of Motions and comes on the back of last week’s pledge of $584 million in financial support by the NSW State Government to assist drought-stricken farmers.
“Council commends the State Government for this latest commitment to our State’s drought-ravaged farmers,” Mayor Halstead said.
“I would imagine any offer of financial assistance would be warmly welcomed by the farmers at this point in time.”
During the Ordinary Meeting Councillors reviewed previous Council-organised drought relief initiatives which included financial donations and silage runs to drought declared regions.
“We’re fully aware that our State and Federal Governments are the lead agencies when it comes to any coordinated drought relief program and any assistance provided by the Council would be minor in the overall scheme of any crisis,” the Mayor said.
“However we think that it’s important nonetheless that as a community we support both our local farmers and those in other areas however we can and better prepare for the next inevitable drought.”
The first Notice of Motion focussed on the immediate drought crisis while a second Motion put forward proposes that Council consider developing a longer-term hardship policy for future natural disasters.
“Drought, flood and fire are sadly reoccurring natural disasters that affect most of our farmers at some point,” the Mayor said. “Indeed climate change advocates will argue that these events are becoming more frequent and intense.”
“With this in mind I congratulate both Councillors Nelson and Whipper for raising the issue of drought and hardship assistance and drawing attention to the plight currently facing many of our State’s farmers.”
“I particularly applaud the inclusion of any mental healthcare support within any aid package to help our rural and remote communities through these tough times.
“I’m also pleased that all of our Councillors recognised the severity of the issue and were unanimous in their immediate and long-term support,” the Mayor said.
As part of the adoption of the Notice of Motion it is proposed that an Information Session be organised for Councillors to review its existing Hardship Policy to ensure it is relevant in terms of assisting local farmers suffering financial stress as a result of natural disaster.
“Our role as local Councillors is to focus on Shire-specific issues,” the Mayor concluded.
“But it’s just as important that as civic leaders we’re compassionate to the greater plight affecting not only our local farmers but also those farmers in other districts.”