The State Government’s decision to offer $250 million in bonuses to public servants on top of an above-CPI wage rise at a time when thousands of rural producers are struggling to survive the drought has been described as “heartless” and “irresponsible”.
AgForce CEO Mike Guerin said this latest slap in the face for the State’s primary producers, following hard on the heels of the introduction last week of the Reef Bill, had angered many communities doing it tough.
“This decision is at best thoughtless, at worst, heartless and irresponsible, and shows just out how of touch the State Government is with regional Queensland,” Mr Guerin said.
“They have no idea what’s going on out there on farms and in towns across Queensland.
“We appreciate the vital role of public servants.
“But this is NOT the time to be handing out cash to a largely urban workforce when two-thirds of the State is suffering through the longest drought on record and tens of thousands of producers have their backs to the wall.
“$250 million would buy around 2.5 million semi-trailer loads of water to farms and rural communities, many of whom have nearly, or actually, nothing left to drink.
“To put it in perspective, Rural Aid was able to provide vital assistance to 4,500 farmers with $30.5 million in donations, including 65,000 large round hay bales, cash to assist with bills and gift cards to help feed their families.
“We believe the public service bonus is a cynical cash splash by the State Government to buy 200,000 votes and keep the public sector unions sweet in the lead-up to the State election next year.”
Mr Guerin said this perverse decision underlined why it was so important for people living in Brisbane and other urban centres to stand united with regional Queensland.
“We are all in this together,” he said.
“We know our city cousins appreciate agriculture’s vital contribution to Queensland’s high standard of living and economy, but they probably don’t know how tough it is at the moment for farmers, nor how completely we are being ignored by our State Government.
“People in rural and regional Queensland can see that this Government’s priorities are all wrong, and they are very, very angry.
“AgForce’s Stand up for Regional Queensland campaign gives people living in our cities a chance to back us and show the Queensland Government that to ignore us is to imperil the entire State.”