AGFORCE President Brent Finlay has vowed to take the stories of flood-affected farmers directly to the powers that be once the AgForce Road to Rebuilding tour, which was in Emerald yesterday, concludes.
The “one-stop shop” tour provided flood-affected farmers with a singular place to provide vital information and services.
“Part of my role is to pass on the information that people give directly to me and also keep the focus of politicians, whether it’s local, state or federal, on what’s happened here,” Mr Finlay said.
“A lot of the focus may shift north after recent events and that’s fair enough, but we need to keep reminding politicians that people here are also in recovery, they’re rebuilding and they can’t be forgotten about.
“For me to be able to talk to so many people about what’s happened on their farm is very important, I sit on a number of state committees and also a national committee with the Prime Minister and Treasurer, so to be able to directly relay what I see and hear is invaluable.”
He said one major issue that came up repeatedly on the tour was the need to restore state road and rail infrastructure, particularly roads.
“People have got cattle to get off their property, they may have grain stored on their property, they may need to get fertiliser in, they may need to get seed onto their property, and all that’s proving very difficult.
“We need to rebuild on-farm and off-farm infrastructure so we can actually get cash flow going back into farm businesses and then that cash flow flows into the businesses in towns.
“When I talk about assistance- infrastructure rebuilding is not only for farmers, it is also for every person in rural and regional Queensland.”
Mr Finlay said one of the important aspects to come out of the natural disaster was the opportunity to identify all the weak links in our state road system.
“It’s not just about putting a load of gravel on the roads, it’s not just about painting guide rails and putting some new signs in, we now know where we have to fix for the long term,” he said. “We can’t flood-proof the state, but we can certainly make a lot of these roads more flood-proof.”
He said feedback from farmers on the four-day tour had been fantastic, with numbers being great and most leaving with what they came for.
“It is important to understand that we’re on the road to recovery and rebuilding now, and it is a process that we’re dedicated to working through with farmers. It is important for people to get out and talk to people, because communities rebuild communities,” he said.
“We had a group at Rolleston arrive and then afterwards move on to the pub, and stuff like that is really important because we get people off their farms and talking to each other and their neighbours and that’s all part of the road to recovery.”
Representatives from AgForce, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB, Rural Bank, WFI, Suncorp, QRAA, Aussie Helpers, The Salvation Army and the Fitzroy Basin Association were present to offer free services to attendees.
“A lot of the focus may shift north after recent events and that’s fair enough...”
AgForce President Brent Finlay
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