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Rural Communities Seeking More Details On Drought Commitment

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In a very Sydney centric budget delivered by the NSW Government today, drought stricken farmers have not been overlooked, NSW Farmers said today.

The association said it was pleased to see an additional $13 million committed to drought assistance measures for farmers and regional communities to prepare and cope with drought although there were no details available at this stage.

Meanwhile, the budget for the Department of Primary Industries – the department responsible for the delivery of rural and regional services – of $1.3 billion has been maintained.

Association president Fiona Simson said that while it was good news that the department’s budget had not been cut, the focus for DPI and its key agency Local Land Services now needed to turn to the quality and flexibility of service delivery on the ground.

Meanwhile, rural and regional NSW look like their issues on the ground with roads and bridges have been given some attention in the NSW Government’s 2014-15 budget.

The budget for roads, maritime and freight increased $400 million from last year in one of the largest transport budgets in the state’s history. However, this investment is substantially below the $61.5 billion which has been committed to Sydney.

Regional and rural NSW will benefit from several areas of investment including:

• $6 million for rail infrastructure upgrades on key sites on Country Regional Network to improve freight train loading rates for grain
• $44 million – out of $277 million already allocated – to be spent this year to maintain and upgrade grains rail lines in country NSW
• $77 million – includes extending Bridges for the Bush program to support productivity and safety for road freight
• $50 million for western NSW freight productivity program including sealing work on Cobb and Silver City Highways and
• $37.5 million for Fixing Country Roads program in partnership with councils and industry.

Ms Simson said she looked forward to further details being announced on drought assistance by Minister Hodgkinson.

“It is very important that we don’t forget more than 50 percent of our state is in drought and that many farmers are still hurting despite the rainfall many parts of NSW have had recently,” she concluded.

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