Minister Whetstone was in town last Friday

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone visited Clare last Friday.
Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone visited Clare last Friday.

Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the state government is ready to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with South Australian farmers battling drought.

Mr Whetstone paid a visit to Clare last Friday morning to make a budget address to some of the Valley’s decision makers, including Mayor Alan Aughey and Chief Executive Officer Helen Macdonald, during a breakfast at the Clare Country Club.

Mr Whetstone did not visit drought stricken areas of the Mid North after his budget address, instead returning to Adelaide for the annual Royal Adelaide Show lunch.

Farmers in the Robertstown area have been vocal about the need for drought to be declared in the state.

SA-Best Member of the Legistlative Council Frank Pangallo also added his voice to the cause after visiting drought affected properties near World’s End.

However Mr Whetstone told the Northern Argus that drought is no longer declared in SA.

“The reason we do not declare drought in South Australia anymore is because it does not put lines on maps,” he said.

“Once upon a time when there was a drought declaration, some farmers were eligible for support and some farmers were not. Now it is all independently assessed.

“For farmers who are experiencing hardship through this extreme dry they must not self-assess, they must contact the Department of Primary Industries and have someone come out and assess them and give them the support they need.”

Earlier in August the state government established a dry season working group which includes representatives from Primary Producers SA, Grain Producers SA, Livestock SA and Rural Business Support.

Mr Whetstone said the group were providing him with daily updates on drought conditions around the state.

These updates will be passed on to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s drought coordinator, Major General Stephen Day.

Mr Whetstone said it was on Major General Day’s agenda to visit South Australia.

“Robertstown and Eudunda will be an area I will ask him to visit, as it will be on Eastern Eyre and as it will be on the Murray Mallee.

“For him to be able to do that, it will enable the federal government to implement the Drought Response Fund which is $75 million.”

Mr Whetstone said he would tour the areas alongside Major General Day when he visits.