Catania pans late support

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Geoff VivianMidwest Times
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Vince Catania with Carnarvon growers, mother and son Joyce and David Babun.
Camera IconVince Catania with Carnarvon growers, mother and son Joyce and David Babun. Credit: Vince Catania MLA/Supplied, Vince Catania MLA

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan is “playing politics with people’s lives and food supply in WA”, according to North West Central member Vince Catania.

While Ms MacTiernan has promised $1 million to help Carnarvon’s flood-affected growers if elected, Mr Catania said this was an unacceptable delay.

“Three weeks ago an urgent call for assistance highlighted to the Government just how time-critical the replacement of topsoil is to allow growers to meet planting schedules, supply markets and our State with food,” he said.

Ms MacTiernan said the funding would help growers access and spread new soil on their properties to replace topsoil washed away in the floods.

“It will also assist in repairing and replacing damaged irrigation infrastructure,” she said.

The Nationals’ Mr Catania said this highlighted a “shallow understanding” by the minister of the real issues.

“Right now growers need topsoil replacement to start growing and the rest can come later,” he said.

“To add insult to injury, the minister’s own department has indicated resolving the topsoil issue could take up to six months.

“Clearly the minister’s forgotten Carnarvon grows around 70 per cent of WA’s winter vegetables, and for these to be in the shops in the next couple of months, crops needed to be planted yesterday.”

Ms MacTiernan said her Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development had “teams on the ground” conducting soil loss assessments for growers, which would inform distribution of funds.

“The fund will be in addition to assistance available under Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery funding,” she said.

“As part of the commitment, the McGowan Government will undertake a review of the Carnarvon catchment to provide systematic solutions to reduce future flood impacts on local growers.”

Ms MacTiernan’s office was contacted for additional comment.

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