House debates

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Questions without Notice

Regional Australia

2:06 pm

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the member for Flynn for his question. There are many communities in his Queensland electorate presently beset by drought. As he told me a little earlier, sports fields, those fields of dreams, have turned into dust bowls. This is, as I'm sure all members would agree, heartbreaking. They've been forced to truck in water to Miriam Vale, population 500. I know there are a lot of other communities across the country where this is a sad fact too. This is cattle country, where the member for Flynn comes from, and beef producers—indeed, all small businesses—are feeling the pinch. Whether it's Eidsvold, Emerald, Gayndah or elsewhere, people encountering drought are doing it tough.

But they're resilient folk. Country people always are. They know that relief and recovery efforts are being made to help them through and they know that it will rain again eventually. Until it does, we're there right behind them. We as a government—

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

I'd like to think that we as a parliament, Member for Hunter, would offer bipartisanship—the sort of bipartisanship that Bill Kelty, a good union man, is offering the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal. He's partnering with John Sharp to take up a position in that august organisation. He knows what a role that organisation is playing.

Of course, regional communities across Australia, and especially in Queensland, have endured plenty in recent times: the fires presently burning; the flooding, which caused such damage in the north in February. As we go through these tough times, it's important to know that the government—as I said, the parliament should—and indeed organisations such as FRRR are behind them.

FRRR was established 19 years ago, in the year 2000, with the bipartisan support of the government. A $10 million initial contribution—

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

I don't know why you're yelling so much. This is helping all country communities, Member for Hunter. It's time you came to the table and just behaved yourself occasionally. They're country people doing it tough, and you won't ever stop yelling out at them. You should behave yourself. You're a disgrace, an absolute disgrace, and you know you are.

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