House debates

Thursday, 5 December 2019


Drought, Lindsay Electorate

10:32 am

Photo of Melissa McIntoshMelissa McIntosh (Lindsay, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Australians know that when times are tough we band together and show just how determined and resilient we can be. We support each other. We help a neighbour, a friend or even a stranger to get back on their feet. We know that they might be down, but they're not out. This drought has tested so many Australians. As the nature of the drought changes, the Morrison government is advancing its response. We're listening to those on the frontlines of the drought so we can deliver tailored support in areas of need. People right across our country care about our fellow Australians impacted by the drought, including in my electorate of Lindsay. That's why I've asked the minister for drought, David Littleproud, to join me for a drought forum. While my community is far from the worst affected, people continue to ask me what we're doing to help our farmers and how they can help. I want our community to hear about what the Morrison government is putting in place to support our farmers and drought affected communities to get through these tough times. I thank Minister Littleproud in advance and I look forward to welcoming him to my electorate of Lindsay next week.

The government is responding to the drought in the here and now for the farmers and the broader drought affected communities facing these harsh conditions as well as looking ahead to deliver better water storage projects to have us better prepared to face drought in the future. We're delivering a significant boost to farmers and communities hit by the drought with the Morrison government's $709 million drought relief package. We're making sure money is flowing through these economies as they go through the drought and as these communities get stronger, supporting farmers, jobs and local businesses. We're protecting jobs, so that they can bounce back when they're ready, by providing businesses dependent on agriculture with interest-free loans of up to $500,000.

Recently, registrations also opened for the Morrison government's Drought Community Support Initiative. This initiative will deliver one-off payments of up to $3,000 so that people in eligible, drought affected communities can cover their groceries, car maintenance, energy bills, medical expenses and other day-to-day living expenses. This comes on top of the farm household allowance. It is so people in the hardest hit communities can stay on top of their bills in this difficult time.

The drought doesn't stop at the farm gate. We're backing 122 councils and shires in drought affected areas, delivering $1 million to invest in projects that support local jobs. We're building long-term resilience with the $5 billion Future Drought Fund, and $1.48 million has already been committed to 21 important water infrastructure projects, including dams, weirs and pipelines. These projects will make us more resilient when there are future droughts, but there is more to be done.

Minister Littleproud is just one of the ministers I've invited to Lindsay since being elected. The reason I do this is to make sure we are connecting with our community—to make a difference to the lives of the people who live in my community and to ensure they're being listened to. This year I welcomed the Prime Minister and the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to hear from families and participants about their experiences with the NDIS.

The Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, joined me to launch the Lindsay Healthy Active Living Network. With higher than average levels of obesity in both children and adults in Lindsay, it's really important that we address these issues. In Lindsay we also have levels of mental illness that are higher than the state average. This is an issue—the health and wellbeing of people in my community—that's really important to me.

The Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, came to Penrith to launch the Lindsay Jobs of the Future Forum. Through the forum we can collaborate with local educational institutions and businesses to make sure the local kids of today are being educated and trained in the jobs of the future that will coming to us in Western Sydney with the aerotropolis—jobs in the space industry, advanced manufacturing and agribusiness.

I recently welcomed the Minister for Indigenous Australians to Lindsay to listen to our local Aboriginal community in an open forum where we talked about education and making sure that we're engaging our local Aboriginal children in education, because that is what will get them jobs and give them a strong future. I will continue to bring ministers to Lindsay so we can make local voices heard and have the conversations that matter to people in my community.

As we approach Christmas—to go back to the drought—I encourage people in my community and across Australia to support jobs and businesses in drought affected communities by going country for Christmas. Buying your Christmas presents for friends and family can support someone's income and their business. I encourage you to go country for Christmas and find a country based business that you can support.