The NSW Opposition is calling on the Government to provide financial assistance to clear dangerous debris from cane fields across the Northern Rivers, after last year’s catastrophic floods.
Leader of the NSW Nationals Dugald Saunders said cane growers are still finding unsafe waste in their paddocks.
“One of the lingering issues for farmers following the 2022 floods is the hazardous materials that are left behind once the water subsides,” Mr Saunders said.
“Cane crops in northern NSW can take two years to mature and with the first major harvest underway since the deluge, farmers are now facing dangerous conditions.
“We need the government to urgently step in to help pay for the removal of this waste so our primary producers can get on with their jobs and do them safely.”
Shadow Minister for Emergency Services and the North Coast Gurmesh Singh said cane growers need help with the ongoing clean-up effort.
“It is unfair to ask farmers to shoulder the financial burden of disposing of vast amounts of rubbish dumped by flood waters,” Mr Singh said.
“The government needs to step in and waive any fees to dispose of debris at local landfill or waste centres because every little bit of support counts.”
Member for Clarence Richie Williamson said everything from gas cylinders to washing machines and furniture are being found on properties across the region.
“As cane farmers get rolling for harvest, they are finding more debris and waste in their crops, costing time and money for them to remove,” Mr Williamson said.
“The previous Coalition government was able to absorb the costs of the immediate waste disposal in the aftermath of the floods, so it is reasonable to ask this government to do the same.”
Chairman of the NSW Cane Growers Association Ross Farlow said farmers trying to dispose of this flood debris have been advised that they are required to pay fees for the disposal of rubbish that is not their own, but a result of the catastrophic flood of 2022.
“Last year the LGA’s waived fees at their waste receival facilities, the Canegrowers Executives from the Tweed, Richmond and Clarence Rivers have been advised that the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will not fund the cost of disposal fees this year,” Mr Farlow said.
“Many tonnes of flood debris was cleared from cane farms in 2022 and it is expected that there is still a significant amount to be removed from the two-year old cane paddocks this year.
“It is not fair and reasonable that the farmers who themselves have been severely impacted by the floods should have to bear the high costs associated with disposing huge amounts of rubbish dumped on their farms by flood waters.
“The cost of the disposal of debris that has been laying in the two-year old cane paddocks since the flood in 2022 is yet another blow to already demoralised farmers,” he said.