The newly-appointed New South Wales drought coordinator says he is determined to ensure no one is left behind in the rollout of the State Government's billion-dollar response to the drought.
Jock Laurie was today announced as the state's drought coordinator, continuing the work of Pip Job who will remain in a role working with farmers.
The veteran farming advocate is a grazier from Walcha in North Western New South Wales and previously served as president of the National Farmers' Federation.
He is also the state's land and water commissioner.
"It will fit in very well with some of the work I've been doing as land and water commissioner," Mr Laurie said.
"We travel around the state talking to a lot of farmers as it is and a lot of issues that are raised with me on a regular basis are around the drought.
"The current drought, the problems that people are having and plenty of suggestions around what people would like to see happen."
Mr Laurie denied suggestions of a conflict of interest between his two government roles, and said the roles were very similar.
"My role is to listen to people and their concerns and take those concerns through," he said.
"We'll try and find ways to address them if we can and if we can't, we'll make sure the senior people are aware of those concerns and they can think about how they want to address them."
'Not being left behind'
Mr Laurie said he would take his title as coordinator literally, so he would not be at the farm gate speaking to people but would ensure resources got to those that needed them.
"Making sure that the coordination is there, what we'll be making sure of is people will have access to people and they're not being left behind," he said.
"You can call it what you want to call it, but I'll be out there in this role trying to help as much as we can."
The new coordinator said he would be an envoy between farmers and politicians.
"It'll be making sure the issues that are genuine concerns of farmers can be actively discussed in those areas and that's the important thing," Mr Laurie said
"We've got to make sure they know what those concerns are."
Mr Laurie said suggestions the State and Federal Governments had not listened to the concerns of the agriculture industry were unfair.
"I think everybody is listening, it is about how you actually manage it," he said.
"It's a really difficult circumstance, they want to provide overwhelming support to the industry, but they need to be fair and reasonable to the community."
Changing of the guard
New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said Mr Laurie would continue the work of Pip Job who initiated the state's drought relief response.
He said Mr Laurie was more than qualified to take on the role as a matter of urgency with the drought nowhere close to breaking.
"Mr Laurie's advocacy, understanding of the need to protect soil and water, as well as strong relationships with all levels of government stand him in good stead to fulfil this critical role," Mr Blair said.
"He will oversee the implementation of the Government's drought-relief measures to make sure the right assistance is reaching those most in need.
"As the drought increases its impact in the area of water access and management, Mr Laurie's experience as the NSW land and water commissioner will play an important role in assessing at-risk areas and ensuring contingencies are put in place."ABC