Drought Response

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:19 :04 ): I seek leave to make—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order!

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: Mr President, they're yapping at me from every direction today.

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Ridgway.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking—I'm not sure which minister, because the minister responsible—

Members interjecting:

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: It is a referred question to the minister representing the Minister for Agriculture; however, he is away so I'm not sure which one I'm directing it to.

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: He is from Mount Gambier and it is about the South-East, and Leon was from somewhere down there.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! You can ask the Leader of the Government.

Leave granted.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: There was a—

The Hon. K.J. Maher: Go Ridgie!

The PRESIDENT: Order, order!

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: Did you have lunch with Brokey and you've got a bit of carryover from last night, have you? What's going on? Mr President, there was a country cabinet meeting on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday: 22, 23 and 24 November, and minister Bignell was in Naracoorte, and I quote from an ABC Rural summary of a news article:

South Australian Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell says his government will announce drought relief measures for South Australian farmers in the coming weeks.

It goes on to say:

Mr Bignell held a drought meeting in Naracoorte yesterday, attended by more than 50 farmers—

And I've made it clear in this place that they have been suffering from significant rainfall deprivation over the last two years and, particularly, probably one of the worst seasons in living memory. It went on to say:

Mr Bignell said further discussion with cabinet was necessary to consider how much money would be dedicated to drought response and what form it would come.

'We've got to look at what is needed here and then we will tailor the response around that,' Mr Bignell said.

'Sometimes it'll be money, sometimes it'll be changes to regulations.

'Today's about being out here and listening to what it is that people would like.

'Then we'll go back and work on some possible fixes for some of the problems that people are having out here.'

Mr Bignell said more project and extension officers were on the cards.

'We'll definitely be taking a look at that and seeing if we can put more resources into those sorts of things.'

When asked where the money would come from, Mr Bignell said:

…consultation with cabinet was necessary to clarify whether new state resources would be allocated to drought, or if existing resources would be reshuffled.

He said:

There might be a two-pronged approach to this. You can't just walk out of a forum without any consultation with your department…What we want to do is have a well thought out response, where we deliver the very best projects and programs that we possibly can, for the people affected by drought.

My questions to the minister are:

1.Did he make the announcement that the government will announce drought relief measures in South Australia for farmers in coming weeks before consulting cabinet or PIRSA and his department?

2.Will a response just be a number of extra public servants?

3.When will the well thought out response be provided to the people of the South-East who are very keen to have some support from this state Labor government?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:22 :07 ): I thank the honourable member for his important questions, and we will refer them to the relevant minister in another place and bring back a response, because I believe probably a couple of ministers might want to have input into those responses.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: The people of South Australia just want to know when they are going to get some response.

 

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