Government assistance needed to help region's economy through drought

As everyone is now acutely aware, we are in one of the worst droughts on record and as a region Dubbo moved to Level 4 water restrictions at the start of the month.

However while a lot of the focus at the moment is on immediate survival, and securing water to get us through until it eventually rains again, I think it is important we have one eye on the future.

At Monday night’s Ordinary meeting of Council I put up a Mayoral Minute seeking Council make formal representation to the State and Federal Governments to assist businesses who are hit hard by tightening water restrictions and drought implications.

These include turf farms, landscape gardeners, nurseries, pool shops, irrigation specialists and many more who have seen their income drop dramatically as the impacts of the drought and a shrinking water supply hit hard.

Introducing Level 4 water restrictions were essential to protect the region’s water supply to get through the ongoing drought, but businesses will need assistance to survive. So much of the focus has been on farms, and that is understandable given the conditions they have faced but the reality is now we have other businesses that have been hit hard through no fault of their own.

There is no doubt these businesses, regardless of whether they are sole traders or large companies employing several people, will need financial assistance. And that is important to remember, that these industries are large, play a significant role in the region’s economy and are responsible for employing so many locals.

And at a time when Council, the business chamber and the community are working together to try and rejuvenate Wellington’s economy, more businesses suffering or jobs disappearing is the last thing we want.

Some of the region’s businesses have taken a proactive approach, joining a group called the green space alliance, which is working with Council and other stakeholders to look for solutions. This is to be congratulated but they will still need more help and that is why Government intervention is needed.

On a related note, in October I wrote to our state and federal leaders including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Premier Gladys Berejiklian, asking them to start considering the long-term future of Western NSW and ensuring regional areas are protected against the reputational damage the drought will do. I asked them to start planning and budgeting to restore confidence in these areas.

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Don’t forget next Tuesday, 12 November, 2019 is the informal meet and greet, a chance for Wellington residents to come and talk to Councillors and senior staff from Council. This will be held at Wellington Civic Centre between 5.30pm and 7.30pm.

There will be a short presentation on the new Wellington Aquatic Leisure Centre before its opening on Saturday, 16 November, and the new Visitors Information Centre at the Wellington Caves. Come along and find out the latest, or use it as an opportunity to raise an issue with your Council. I hope to see you there.

Last Edited: 06 Nov 2019

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