ghAnd the drought goes on… I’m wondering if anyone is going to take a stand for rural Australia. I’m speaking of those areas such as Western NSW and Central and Western QLD still fighting the extremes of a never-ending drought. Surely it is time for serious attention to be given to those who are suffering. Preparedness and recovery issues are at the cornerstone of any policy decision and at the moment there is a lack of both. But more vital is the need to address the immediate concerns of failing businesses, both on-farm and in villages and towns. Much has been done already by many when it comes to fodder donations and household assistance but there is a reason why the government, both state and federal must do more.

It’s simple. Droughts don’t just affect those on farms. The properties are affected first and then gradually entire regions are swallowed up by the great dry. Farmers, rural workers and employers and employees in towns and villages – mothers, fathers and children, all suffer. For some, the loss of hope can at the very worst, turn to suicide. Businesses downsize at the very least. Staff are put off, school enrolments fall, basic services are affected. Businesses close. People leave to find work elsewhere. The truth of drought is that it affects farmer’s businesses, yes, but it has far-ranging implications for rural towns and entire regions.

Entire communities can be decimated within two years and can take up to a decade to recover. If ever. It intrigues me that with this creeping, incremental catastrophe that more has not been done to address the terrible social implications that can come from what is an unaddressed natural disaster. Surely there must be some politicians looking at their electorates wondering at the possibility of a complete shut-down of rural industries in their region. Guess what, in some areas it’s already happening.