The CWA of NSW was privileged to participate in the National Farmers' Federation's Leaders' Summit this week, and to be amongst industry leaders, policy makers, researchers and politicians.
The agricultural industry, and the Australian government, has a goal for Australian agriculture to reach a value of $100 billion by 2030.
In the midst of a the most severe drought we've ever seen, it was reassuring to discuss and reflect upon all the aspects that make up this wonderful industry with like-minded organisations, and look so positively on our prospects for the future.
Regional communities, and improving the lives of country people, is at the heart of our organisation and so many others.
The concept of a national plan for drought was discussed, and, unfortunately, the Australian government's lack of a national drought strategy. We simply need a strategic and long-term approach to drought, and not policy that's made on the fly.
The "fast-tracking" of dam building projects, for example, as announced by the NSW and federal governments last week.
Handling projects in this manner can cause community concern and division, and a lack of trust and credibility in the government process, fast-tracked or not.
Dams should be being planned as part of our government's responsibility to strategically manage water resources in the longer term.
CWA of NSW has long been calling for more dams, starting with a policy motion passed in 1960 calling for an enlargement of Wyangala Dam.
This project was identified by the NSW government in 2014 as a "priority infrastructure upgrade" for managing both drought and flood. It's now being fast-tracked as part of the NSW government's drought response.
It's disappointing that this is now seemingly the way that such important state infrastructure is handled.
We've also been calling for support for rural communities, including non-primary producer small businesses who are also feeling the effects of the drought.
The NSW government has taken the step of announcing an inquiry into drought affected communities.
We welcome this inquiry, but shouldn't these questions be already asked and solutions put forward, so that the support programs can commence in a timely manner?
Governments should be thinking about and planning for drought, dams, water, small business support in the good times, so that we are more prepared to act when it matters.