Mr RAMSEY (Grey–Government Whip) (16:38): There has been a lot of focus-quite rightly-on the drought across Australia and particularly in the eastern states, but I must report that there are also patches of South Australia, particularly in my electorate of Grey, that are badly affected. A couple of weeks ago I held a forum in a place called Arno Bay on the east coast of the Eyre Peninsula, which is probably at centre of the worst of it. Since that time, we’ve had some rain, but rain doesn’t put pasture in the paddock or crops in the ground. It’s very late in the season and the paddocks are already in a very advanced state of drift and erosion. So we have serious problems.
Since that meeting I have been working hard to try to marry up different ends. I welcome very much the government’s actions across the board on drought relief, which would see a couple, for instance, farming there be eligible for up to about $46,000 worth of assistance over the next 12 months. My office has been contacted by people wanting to help and wanting to make donations. The South Australian bowls association contacted me and said, ‘What can we do?’ I said, ‘Donate money and make sure that it goes to South Australian organisations.’ Other people have done the same. There has been one new charity, if you like, formed on Eyre Peninsula. It is called Epic Charitable Trust and is teaming up with Mentally Fit EP in Port Lincoln. They are delivering fodder and are also planning to bale straw in the more favourable areas after harvest. Donations are helping with the baling cost-farmers are donating the straw-and with the transport. I’m encouraging people to donate to that cause. In fact, the other day I called in on Sunrise Christian School’s stall at the Whyalla Show. Their proceeds are going to exactly that fund. The other organisation I’ve contacted is Buy a Bale, which is an eastern state organisation. It has committed to me that it will put South Australia on its site and is welcoming applications from South Australians. I’m still making sure that it is actually getting put on its site, but its commitment to me is that that is what will happen. Of course, if people donate to that cause it will be tax deductible.
There are others around, but I’m just trying to get out the message that people can help and their help would be appreciated. Of course, South Australians would really like to see that help go to South Australians first. Those are the organisations I’m recommending at this stage, and I will continue to work with them. The other thing I did was contact Viterra, which controls the grain storage network. It has limited supplies of mixed grains available, but those mixed grains will be available for seeding to stabilise the soil.