Beef cattle producer Walter Paton, at 85 years of age, has lived all of his life at Tooma, in the Tumbarumba Shire, in the Riverina electorate. In all of those years he has never experienced a flood quite as devastating as the one that swept through the district on Friday, 15 October. Brought about by continual, steady rain it was far worse than any previous flood in Walter's lifetime, with far more disastrous effects than those of 1934, 1956 or 1974. Things were not helped by the breaching of the Mannus Dam and the resultant wall of water which gushed through the valley, taking with it hundreds of huge basket willow logs and branches which were, inexplicably, left lying on the ground. These trees, up to 30-metres long, had been felled, as I understand it, by Catchment Management Authority contractors in the past 12 months or so, and, as is the practice these days, left where they fell. This is said to enhance the natural environment and to enable frogs to spawn. But these tree limbs surged down the valley and smashed into the Tooma bridges, taking out the abutments and leaving communities isolated and the local council counting the cost. This was just one of many districts to be hit hard by this flood event.
I wrote seeking funding assistance to the federal government last week, and have written again to the appropriate minister today, calling for a one-off payment of $1,000 per adult and $400 per child to help affected families. The floods in the Riverina and Farrer electorates have taken their toll, particularly at Adelong, Culcairn, Lockhart, Tarcutta, The Rock, Uranquinty and Wagga Wagga, and I believe the government should seriously consider providing payments similar to those given after the 2009 Ingham and Coffs Harbour floods