House debates

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Statements by Members


1:40 pm

Photo of Brian MitchellBrian Mitchell (Lyons, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Central Highlands and the east coast of Tasmania are facing very difficult conditions and have not seen much needed rain for many months. In the Central Highlands town of Bothwell, for example, farmers are destocking and hand feeding their sheep. This area relies heavily on fodder crops, but the lack of rain and cost of irrigation means farmers are having to buy in grain for feed. One local farmer, Will Bignell, says that it seems like 'Bothwell has run itself dry. The Central Highlands might not get the same attention as some of the mainland towns, but the farmers in my electorate are feeling it hard. He has being buying in feed which is, at peak market prices, more than $10,000 a truckload. Like many farmers, Will has had to destock up to 30 per cent of his sheep to help keep his business going and keep the income coming in, but it does not augur well for the future.

It is a similar story on Tasmania's east coast. Alan and Tracey Johnston also have a sheep farm at Cranbrook. They're good, solid people, just trying to make a living out of the land. They rely on the Swan River for their water for stock, household use and firefighting. Swan River is nearly dry. It supports 12 other farmers and it's running dry as we sit here in Canberra today enjoying ice cold water, filtered and readily available. We need dams. We need dams in my electorate. We need dams across Tasmania. Dams provide water storage and water security. Next time a petition comes up to a cafe counter that says don't build this dam, ignore it. We need dams. Water is life.