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Drought relief: Energy Minister Angus Taylor backs Michael McCormack's suggestion over environmental flows

By Jake Evans and Jon Healy, Fri 14 Sep 2018

Despite some protestations from fellow ministers over environmental water flows, Angus Taylor has said nothing can be ruled out when it comes to getting water to Australia's farmers.

Speaking from drought-affected Goulburn in New South Wales Southern Tablelands, the Energy Minister did not reject the notion of releasing environmental water to ease the burden.

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder is in charge of water allocations for environmental flows under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Mr Taylor accepted that the group had its own mandate and could make its own decisions, but said every option needed to be explored because this was the most stressful situation he had ever seen for farmers.

"I would encourage anyone, private [or] public, to look at any way we can get water into forage for farmers. We need good summer crops to come off in order to help our farmers to make sure there's enough feed," the local member said.

"Every possible source of feed for farmers needs to be accessed, the logistical problems need to be solved and I know the Agriculture Minister [David Littleproud] and drought envoy Barnaby Joyce are working very hard to do exactly that.

"Every bit of water that can be used … to produce feed, should be used. It's as simple as that."

, saying the Government "will certainly take a look at" changing legislation to allow water allocated for environmental flows under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to be used by irrigators dealing with the drought.

It echoed , but Environment Minister Melissa Price said they "don't have any plans to change the legislation".

'Manna from heaven'

Mr Taylor's latest message came as 250 tonnes of hay arrived in Goulburn after a long journey from Tasmania.

One Braidwood farmer described the delivery as "mana from heaven" and said the assistance from the Government and the public was hugely appreciated, despite .

"I feel very sad that a lot of the farmers have had dreadful times to go through," she said.

"No farmer wants to ask for help and they're the last people to ask for help, but in this situation they have to be helped.

"I lived in Sydney many years ago and I had a butcher shop next to my business and I would just fly in there and get all this meat for the weekend [and] never, ever stopped to think what a farmer has to do to get that leg of lamb or a piece of meat to your home."

She said anything that raised awareness of, not only the struggles farmers go through, but simply the amount of work they put in, was welcome.


© 2018 ABC

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