Namoi Unlimited is calling on the NSW Government to explain how it will move forward with strategic drought policy and drought assistance and recovery programs after the NSW Drought Coordinator, Jock Laurie, was made redundant.
Mr Laurie took on the role in December 2018. He was charged with identifying areas of need, barriers to existing drought support, and sharing the impacts of drought on communities with the Government.
Chair of Namoi Unlimited and Mayor of Gunnedah Shire Council Jamie Chaffey says, “the decision to make this position redundant at this time is confusing.
“We have concerns it could damage the momentum we currently have in working with the Government to identify solutions for the Namoi region, which is one of the worst affected drought areas of Australia.
“This drought is unprecedented and we believe more must be done to sustain local populations and assist businesses.”
Namoi Unlimited would like to see the position reinstated and resourced.
The Joint Organisation of Councils recently wrote to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her Deputy John Barilaro outlining 23 recommendations for drought management and support.
Cr Chaffey described Jock Laurie as a “strong friend and advocate” for his community. Mr Laurie is a former National Farmers Federation president and resides on a farm outside Walcha.
“I spoke with Jock today and thanked him personally, and on behalf of the wider Namoi Unlimited community for the outstanding job he has done.
“Jock’s knowledge of farming, the land and water has been vital in demonstrating the impacts of drought on our communities, and working to make a difference.
“Like so many of us, Jock is living this drought. It’s disappointing to see an advocacy position with strong ties to our district abolished, particularly during this challenging time.”
“We believe now is the time for all three tiers of government to unite and make a genuine commitment to supporting drought-affected farmers, towns and businesses.
“The state government must explain why this role has been removed, and outline what steps it will take to ensure that ideas and feedback provided by Namoi Unlimited and our constituents are delivered to Macquarie street, and heard”, concludes Cr Chaffey.