Rob Katter MP Member for Mount Isa
Wednesday March 6, 2013 Katter pleads: More help is needed after the Gulf fire to help the hundreds of victims of NW Queensland’s recent disaster to rebuild their businesses and their lives. “It is grossly inadequate, risking people’s lives and putting that region’s beef industry in jeopardy,” the Member for Mount Isa, Mr Rob Katter, has told Parliament.
In a speech to the House yesterday, he said massive stock losses on the 216 fire-hit properties, widespread infrastructure destruction, and the loss of more than 1,000,000 ha of fodder has pushed some graziers to the brink.
“Queensland Health has recently assessed every landholder as being ‘extremely stressed’ with a depleted resilience – hardly surprising considering the soul-destroying issues affecting them of late, including the 2008 GFC, the largest floods on record in
2009, 2010 cyclone Yasi, the 2011 Live Export Ban and now the 2012 fires.
“They’ve had months of fire fighting and are now trying to keep alive their breeding stock, as well as having to shoot many of the stock which suffered horrific injuries.
“From that, among the worrying human consequences are disputes between domestic partners who are pushed to the limit, and the impact on children doing home school.
“Providing adequate and ongoing funding for ongoing mental health care for these people is essential.
“If we don’t start helping these graziers, and this industry, regionally, then every time there is a fire or a flood or a drought we will lose more of them as their resilience is now very low.
“The Queensland Government gave just $100,000 to the Bendigo Bank Appeal to help the owners, their families and staff on more than 50 properties across the Gulf Savannah – nowhere near enough considering they then gave $200,000 to the Tasmanian disaster appeal.
“Why is it graziers, their families, their staff, suppliers and service providers, who lose their properties, businesses and stock, are considered to be worth less?” The Gulf and Tablelands communities kicked in $300,000 on their own, Mr Katter told Parliament.
We should not forget our fellow Queenslanders in the Gulf now, simply because a little rain has fallen and the harrowing scenes of burning cattle, fences and yards are no longer in the media.” “Their combined feed bill to rescue just their breeding stock is more than $300,000 alone.
“I plead for this government to engage with either me or the Etheridge Shire or the Group which is co- ordinating the rebuilding programme, on more adequate and sustainable options going forward in terms of supplementing these people’s incomes over the next few years as they rebuild, and assisting the rebuilding of their assets such as fences, tanks, yards and bores.
“The full number of stock lost in the fires is tipped to be more than 10,000, but no one will know until the April muster, and that muster can’t take place until the fences are re-built.” Mr Katter also called on the Federal Government, which has not contributed direct financial assistance to the Gulf graziers, to dig deeper and not forget people in rural and remote areas.