House debates

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Constituency Statements

Cowper Electorate

10:30 am

Photo of Pat ConaghanPat Conaghan (Cowper, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Twelve months ago, this Monday, the electorate of Cowper gave me the honour of representing them in this place. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for putting their trust in me to best represent their interests. But, more importantly, I would like to recognise their determination and resilience over the past 12 months.

I came into this place on the tail end of one of the worst droughts in decades. Our farmers' dams and water tanks were empty. Their stock was sold at devastating prices. They had no crops and no money. Our towns were on level 5 restrictions, and the Macleay River had stopped flowing for the first time in living memory. So what did the people of Cowper do? They dug deep for our farmers. They bought bales of hay, they bought water, they donated, they banded together and they abided by the strict conditions for a common cause.

Then came the months and months of fires. Some were catastrophic, taking lives, livelihoods, houses, properties and swathes of land and killing livestock, native animals, flora and fauna. There was week after week of smoke haze so bad that it closed schools, businesses and decimated our tourism industry. So what did the people of Cowper do? They fought as RFS or SES officers or simply volunteered, donated, cooked or provided a shoulder to cry on. Ironically then it rained and it rained and it rained. God's sense of humour was not lost on us, but the rain washed away precious topsoil and riverbanks left barren by the fires. Tens of thousands of fish were killed in the Macleay River, and it significantly damaged the oyster industry. But, in true Aussie fashion, we got on with it.

Now there is COVID-19. My electorate is not alone. Businesses have closed, many thousands have lost jobs, the export industry has been stopped in its tracks and lives have been put on hold and, in some cases, lives have been lost. But, as always, this challenge was met by my constituents and yours. Just like the drought, just like the fires and the floods, the Australian people have shown their true character and true Australian spirit. For that, I say thank you. To the people of Cowper, I will continue to do my best to represent you, to represent your interests and to make the electorate of Cowper a better place.