I live on the South Coast of NSW in regional Australia.
For five generations my family has dairy farmed here. In 1901, local dairy farmers got together and started the Nowra Dairy Co-operative Company.
Fast forward to 2018, the NSW South Coast remains one of the largest fresh milk markets in NSW. Three of my teenagers proudly work on the same dairy farm today.
Local dairy farms provide around 1000 local jobs and inject millions of dollars into our local economy.
When we go to sleep tonight, at around 1.30am, the milking will go on. 365 days a year - that’s what must be done for fresh milk.
When I was around 15 years old I was working in the dead calm middle of the night with my Dad yelling, “I need to sell this farm!” That night I made a promise that I would learn and do everything I could to help people like my Dad, so that no farmer, their family member or child would be forced from their farm.
I wasn’t elected in 2016 but I’ve never forgotten that promise.
2018 has been a horror year for our farmers: the drought, exorbitant feed prices, the banks putting the pins in, forced to sell literally thousands of cattle in my local community… I have seen droughts, floods, fires, even a tornado – but I have never seen the desperation in the eyes and voices of local dairy farmers pleading for help, “Fiona, if anyone understands, it’s you” they say.
They were the dairy farmers I could see. Most were suffering in silence.
Delegates, for years the Federal Liberal Government has refused to implement a mandatory code of conduct. I want to acknowledge Joel Fitzgibbon here today, I know for years he supported a code of conduct. But we must do more to help dairy farmers.
My message for local dairy farmers in Gilmore is: if you want a fairer go - vote Labor.
If you want action on climate change, energy prices, and drought mitigation – vote Labor.
Vote Labor if you want a government that will deliver a fairer go for regional Australia.