Industry seeks assistance for 'unprecedented' disaster

Industry seeks assistance for 'unprecedented' disaster


Politics
Agforce president Georgie Somerset and chief executive Mike Guerin in Canberra today.

Agforce president Georgie Somerset and chief executive Mike Guerin in Canberra today.

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AgForce are in Canberra today to lobby Federal politicians on an assistance package for those impacted by the catastrophic North West Queensland flood event.

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Industry representatives haven't wasted any time getting to Canberra and working on North West Queensland flood recovery with federal politicians, and they’re “cautiously optimistic” about the show of goodwill in the halls of Parliament House.

“Both sides of politics have been very supportive,” said AgForce president Georgie Somerset.

“We’re still counting the cost, but we’re working with them to get cash flowing to rebuild, restock the properties, and get cash cycling through communities again."

The region’s two million strong cattle herd has been decimated, as has the sheep flock, roads are inaccessible, railways are washed away and farmers and local businesses are bracing for an extended economic downturn.

The dramatic flood event is now widely being recognised as the worst natural disaster to impact the Australian beef industry in history. 

“We’re working with the sheep and cattle industry, processors, live exporters, the National Farmers’ Federation, to ensure our conversations reflect what the whole of industry is seeking,” said Ms Somerset.

Related reading: PM announces $100m for North Queensland flood victims

A major government assistance package is in development.

Attention is still focused on assisting producers grappling with the toll of the flood, but there have been calls for targeted long term assistance such as utility and Shire Council rate rebates and assistance with direct debt reduction.

“To make the situation relevant to an urban audience, it’s like having no cash flow through your businesses for three years, but you still need to turn up and do the work,” said AgForce chief executive Mike Guerin.

“And it’s the same in the towns, we need to keep the schools, the mechanics, the trucking companies going.”

The record flood is a natural disaster of unprecedented proportion, eclipsing the 1974 high water mark by a full metre.

“Like all these situations I see the goodness in people shining through and that is quite overwhelming,” Ms Somerset said.

“We are constantly fielding calls from people wanting to know how they can help - both urban and rural, some of them have been in drought for seven years.”

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said his government was listening. 

"We will speak with AgForce, local councils and others on the best way to assist farmers and rural communities to recover from this flood disaster," he said. 

The story Industry seeks assistance for 'unprecedented' disaster first appeared on Farm Online.

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