State is doing what it can amid dry period

Zach RelphCountryman
Shire of Laverton president Patrick Hill says the dry spell is hurting northern Goldfields cattle producers.
Camera IconShire of Laverton president Patrick Hill says the dry spell is hurting northern Goldfields cattle producers. Credit: Simon Santi

A northern Goldfields shire sweltering amid high temperatures and a lack of rainfall has thrown its support behind the State Government, following suggestions WA is lagging with its drought response.

Federal Drought Minister David Littleproud criticised the McGowan Government on Tuesday for providing “no direct drought support” to parched farmers and pastoralists and saying “that needs to change”.

Despite Mr Littleproud’s comments, Shire of Laverton president Patrick Hill — who ratcheted up calls for the shire to be declared drought-affected in October — said he had no issue with the McGowan Government’s drought response.

There are 14 stations within the Shire of Laverton’s boundaries with cattle producers, including Cr Hill who oversees a cattle operation south of Laverton, struggling through the ongoing dry spell.

Cr Hill said the State Government could provide more funding to pest management to improve drought resilience, but he was pleased with WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan’s action overall.

“It is profound — I haven’t seen it this dry in years,” he said.

“There are a lot of camels coming in and there is no sign of rain at all, so it is only going to get worse before it gets better.

“In saying that, we have been working with the State Government and will keep doing that as we move forward.”

Responding to Mr Littleproud’s comments, Ms MacTiernan said the State Government had poured more funds into feral animal control, rural financial counselling services and pest-proof fences.

She also said the State Government had “tried to engage the Federal Government on potential WA projects” which could be supported through the Future Drought Fund to build resilience in our pastoral and agricultural sectors.

Ms MacTiernan and WA Water Minister Dave Kelly wrote a letter to Mr Littleproud last month, outlining concerns that no WA shires were included within the Federal Government’s Drought Communities Program extension.

“The McGowan Government has concerns that of the 122 councils and shires currently included in the extension to the Drought Communities Program, none of them are in Western Australia,” the letter, supplied to Countryman, read.

“We encourage you to meet with some of our local councils and shires suffering under drought conditions and consider including them in the Drought Communities Program.”

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