Western Queensland has set up its own drought appeal in a desperate effort to maintain the economic and social viability of historic towns across western Queensland, the Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar, MP told the Queensland Parliament today.
Mr Millar raised the impact of the drought as a Matter of Public Importance and asked Australians to donate through the Western Queensland Drought Appeal Facebook page.
“If you speak about a Category 5 cyclone, we all know it is a public crisis. Unfortunately, droughts are not rated for length or severity. So, currently we say that nearly 80% of Queensland is drought affected. This doesn’t reflect the unequal experiences across Queensland,” he said.
“Drought is a creeping phenomenon and this drought started in the west. With the failure of this third wet season, the drought being suffered in western Queensland is at the top of the scale.”
Mr Millar told the Parliament that sheep and cattle producers across the west have not had income for years.
“When the Longreach Saleyards have cancelled all future sales until further notice, it means the landscape is now essentially de-stocked. Those fortunate enough to have retained a small herd of breeders are relying on donated hay-bales or the stock routes in eastern Queensland to keep them alive. These small herds and flocks are the tenuous promise to their children that there will be a future when the drought breaks,” he said.
The western drought has become a social and economic calamity that threatens the very survival of historic towns and settlements, Mr Millar said in Parliament. He also expressed his disappointment that it had been left to the people to organise their own public relief appeal.
“We are a forgotten people. Premier’s Appeals have been set up whenever other Queensland communities have suffered disaster on such a scale and I wrote to the Government suggesting this be done,” said Mr Millar. “We can wait no longer, so western Queenslanders have set up our own appeal to give people an avenue to confidently contribute funds for relief.”
The Western Queensland Drought Appeal seeks cash donations which will be converted to post-code specific generic debit cards. Recipients can spend these debit cards at their local businesses to obtain necessities.
“This achieves two goals. We are furnishing all the victims of drought, both bushies and townies, with support for the necessaries of life. We also support local retailers by using them to supply the aid. This will ensure that retail workers and business operators keep their jobs in these communities, and so can stay,” he said.
“Imagine life without a supermarket, a butcher, a pharmacy, a baker, a mechanic. Cash is urgently needed to keep the economies of these towns alive and viable so that there is still a base to rebuild on when the drought breaks,” he said.
Mr Millar urged all Australians and the business community to visit the Western Queensland Drought Appeal Facebook page and make a donation, however small. He also asked that people spread the word by “liking” the page.