House debates

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Constituency Statements

Mallee Accommodation Support Program

4:03 pm

Photo of Anne WebsterAnne Webster (Mallee, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to highlight one of the many not-for-profits in Mallee who support the vulnerable in our communities, the Mallee Accommodation Support Program. MASP has been in operation helping those in need for 25 years. One of its most successful programs is the Kokoda youth mentoring program, now in its 13th year of operation. This program takes a team of vulnerable young people, accompanied by a mentor, to Kokoda to do the 96-kilometre trek. To say this is life-changing is an understatement. These young people are clients of the service and would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience this challenge which results in positive outcomes in their lives.

There are some communities in Mallee who are undergoing severe hardship right now, and they need our support. While some regions have been fortunate and have had significant amounts of rainfall, there are areas in Mallee where farmers and communities are being significantly affected by the triple whammy of drought, water prices and labour force. Drought is devastating to our country, and this drought is beyond what anyone has seen before. While there are many other regions struggling with drought, the people of Millewa, west of Mildura, are currently experiencing their worst drought ever. I commend the farmers of Millewa, whom I met with this week, for their resilience and ingenuity and their support for each other. I want them to know that I have heard them and that I am exploring every option that we have to help them.

Water is a significant challenge now with the ability to access it and pay for it when the market has driven prices to record levels. Our government is committed to review the market and check for exploitation of the market and speculation, to bring prices under control. I am confident these processes of review will help our producers into the future.

The labour force is an issue that we are working hard to resolve, but it is an issue that in some cases has led to the exploitation of people. It is an issue that, if not resolved, will see fruit rot on the ground and family farms struggle to survive. This is an issue that I have been passionately calling our government to resolve. I have brought the issue to ministers to drive a solution that helps Mallee and Australia. Through all this, I commend the people of Mallee for their resilience, their industrious nature and their innovation when times are tough.