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Minister for Water Resources and Drought, David Littleproud, and Lindsay MP, Melissa McIntosh, listen intently to queries and views of locals on the drought permeating across the country. Minister for Water Resources and Drought, David Littleproud, and Lindsay MP, Melissa McIntosh, listen intently to queries and views of locals on the drought permeating across the country. Featured


Support our towns and buy local
WESTERN Sydney residents have been urged to spend money in towns suffering from the horrific bushfires, including those in the Penrith, Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury regions.

Federal Minister for Water Resources and Drought, David Littleproud, has called for this after meeting affected residents at St Marys RSL Club at the height of the bush fires circling Sydney.
“Please go and visit these towns, spend in the local pub, local shops, see the museums because tourism has made these towns pick up when tourists come,” Mr Littleproud said.
Lindsay MP Melissa McIntosh initiated the recent community forum after local poultry producers rallied for the welfare of their fellow farmers facing hardship because of the fires.
Ms McIntosh said she invited Mr Littleproud, previously the Minister for Agriculture, so “our communities have a chance to ask important questions on how the Federal government is responding to the drought being one of our challenging issues.”
Mr Littleproud urged his audience to dig deep even as a drought assistance package for farmers totalling $8B was rolled out by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to bail out as many farmers as they could.
Mr Littleproud urged people wanting to boost affected communities by buying goods from them to buy from local shops such as IGA “because when goods come in from the city, it means money doesn’t come into these towns."
“Please ring the local shops and the butcher and tell them we want to buy products off you and they will make sure they have it for you,” he added.
Apart from economic losses on businesses, the confounding conditions of farming families in remote farms, the surge of mental health cases and declining state of the environment from lack of rain were issues deftly raised by the residents.
Ms McIntosh said she was impressed by the insightful discussions on the drought, even though an urbanised Western Sydney only has a small number of farms.
“People are genuinely concerned about the welfare of their fellow Australians in country towns affected by the drought and this forum gives them that opportunity to find out what we are doing,” she said.
Mr Littleproud said the government had to ensure “measures are in place to keep the farmers going” because the problem caused by the long-running drought was “intricate and the only solution is rain.”
“I have to be honest - there will be people that won’t make it through this drought from a financial point of view,” he said. “Some farmers in hard basket cases have considered selling out to be able to get back up on their feet”.
He said the Federal government has set up www.farmhub.org.au  to provide advice to farmers on how to obtain financial relief options from the package drawn up by the Commonwealth.
The drought is expected to continue for another 12 months, so development programs are being put in place to ensure the agriculture sector can meet the challenges now to “help our farmers keep their properties”, Mr Littleproud said.
Ms McIntosh also urged Western Sydney residents to get behind “Buy from the Bush” and “Buy Regional” campaigns online that sells all kinds of products made by savvy and creative entrepreneurs in drought regions.
Click on www.buyfromthebush.com.au and www.nsw.gov.au/buyregional to check out the products from farm gate delivered by post.
Products include unique gift items from  the Liverpool Plains, artisan gifts and fresh produce from Tamworth, beef in boxes from Baryulgil, wines from vineyards across the country, woollen clothing, women’s and men’s wear, footwear, handmade jewellery, women’s accessories, leathergoods from Dubbo, children’s clothing from Moree, homewares from Corowa in NSW and Jandowae in Queensland.   
For details on support services and assistances available to affected farmers and their families, click on https://www.farmhub.org.au an online resource initiated by the Commonwealth Government and administered by the National Farmers’ Federation.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

Access News is a print and digital media publisher established over 15 years and based in Western Sydney, Australia. Our newspaper titles include the flagship publication, Western Sydney Express, which is a trusted source of information and for hundreds of thousands of decision makers, businesspeople and residents looking for insights into the people, projects, opportunities and networks that shape Australia's fastest growing region - Greater Western Sydney.