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Transcript - 31830

Remarks at Jandra Station, Bourke

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/02/2014

Release Type:

Transcript ID: 31830

E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………

 

Barnaby and Mark, Phil and Di, thanks very much indeed for having me here.

 

I have been racking my brain and I know I have been to Berowra a few times, I know I have been to Walgett but I don't believe I have ever been to Bourke.

 

So, it’s good to be here.

 

Yes, it is nice to hear the pitter-patter of rain on the roof. That is a great sound in country Australia, the sound of rain on a tin roof.

 

I am very conscious of the fact that this has been quite a serious drought. It has been going now for the best part of two years and Phil and Di have been bringing me up to speed with what things were like two years ago compared to what they are like now.

 

Barnaby has been in regular contact with me over the last four or five months about the developing drought situation and of course Mark has been in touch in more recent times, saying, "you really have to get out here to talk to people, to see for yourself what things are like" and here I am, a couple of weeks after we had that conversation, Mark.

 

Drought for farmers is, I guess, what flood or fire is for people in other parts of the economy. It is a natural disaster. Yes, if you're a good farmer, you factor a certain amount of drought into your ordinary business plan but occasionally, you get hit by a drought which is not just routine. It is something that happens once every 20 or 50 years, in the same way that sometimes you get a once in 20 or 50 year flood and it really knocks people around.

 

The important thing is that we have an intelligent response to the problem of drought which is fair and which is responsible. That is what the Government intends to put in place pretty swiftly.

 

There will be better income support. There will be better access to the sort of loan support that people need. There will be plenty of emphasis on the kind of social support that people need in difficult circumstances like this.

 

We want country Australia to be strong and a viable part of our economy. We know that country Australia is a very important part of our ethos but we don't want country Australia to be some kind of museum piece, we want it to be a dynamic part of an ongoing economy.

 

I am very conscious of the fact that while resources have carried us the way we were once carried on the back of the sheep in recent years, there are all sorts of opportunities in the markets to our north and they don't just revolve around coal and iron ore and gas.

 

As Asia becomes more middle class, there will be much more of a demand for sophisticated foods and Australia is extremely well placed to supply that need. If we're going to supply the need, we have to have a strong and dynamic agricultural economy and that means an economy which is able to ride out the drought.

 

What we can't do is prop up failing businesses but what we can do is try to ensure that good businesses that are hit by natural disaster get the sort of support that they need and that is what the Government will be making announcements about in coming days.

 

I want to again thank Barnaby, who has been an indefatigable advocate for country Australia since coming into the parliament.

 

I want to thank Mark, your hard working local member.

 

I want to thank all of my parliamentary colleagues in country Australia, Liberal and National, for the work that they have done.

 

Most of all, Phil and Di thanks for being such marvellous hosts. It is terrific to be here in a real working farm where you have got several generations of passion and commitment represented in you and your kids. The kids are off enjoying themselves I believe in typical country style today.

 

Thank you so much for having us and ladies and gentlemen, I look forward to talking to most of you in the next little while.

 

[ends] 

Transcript - 31830