Floyd Legge has accused Philip Donato of using the drought to score political points, claiming the member for Orange has failed to provide an accurate representation of farmers in the region, choosing instead to invoke an emotive response through social media.
The Legge family own 5000 acres across two properties at Cudal and Forbes, where they farm Poll Hereford cattle, first-cross ewes, fine wool merinos and poll Dorset ewes – a total of around 6500 sheep and 100 cows.
Mr Legge said the Coalition government’s current assistance measures – which Mr Donato has attacked as inadequate – have proved sufficient to drought-proof his property, despite the “tough” conditions.
According to Mr Legge, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers member’s calls to invoke a state of emergency to provide immediate relief are not the best solution, with government funds being better used to fund drought-proofing measures, not relief.
“He’s busy making broad statements and making no attempt to ask in parliament what response the Nationals will take,” Mr Legge said.
“I would like to see a nine-month wait for primary producers after a declaration of drought to encourage managers to put preventative measures in place.”
Mr Donato labeled claims that he is using the difficult conditions to benefit politically as completely incorrect, pointing to Legislative Assembly reports which record the question of drought funding raised on numerous occasions between February 8 and May 3.
“I am elected to stand up and represent my constituent and my constituent is suffering – I’m obliged to act on their behalf,” he said.
“It’s an issue that needs to be urgently addressed and I’ve been raising it in parliament for a number of months because that’s what any reasonable representative would do.”
Mr Legge admits that “bits of rain here and there” has helped the family fare better than many in the area, while drought-prevention measures have helped them avoid the worst effects.
“We’re fortunate in that we’ve had sufficient stored feed up until this point but there is no substitute for green grass,” he said.
While falling short of declaring a state of emergency, the NSW Government on Monday announced the appointment of former National Rural Woman of the Year, Pip Job, as the State’s Drought Coordinator.