'It's so bad': Family make 'hardest decision' after losing battle against drought

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

For cattle owner Kylie Thatcher, the ongoing drought ravaging Australia’s east hasn’t left her in financial ruin like thousands of other farmers.

But that didn’t make it any less heartbreaking for the Queenslander when she was left with no choice but to sell her cattle after the struggle to keep them alive became too much.

Taking to Facebook last week, she announced that she was forced to say goodbye to 16 of her cows as their suffering had no end in sight.

“Some [of the cattle] we’ve had from babies,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

“For me it's the attachment you make with them... the trust they have in you that you’re there everyday 24/7 to make sure they have feed and water.

“To do this for years and to have to watch that truck drive away... you have no words to explain. It really is so bad.”

Kylie Thatcher has made the devastating call to say goodbye to her cattle. Source: Supplied

‘They can’t survive on dirt’

She said her family had battled for three years to keep their cattle at their Kabra estate, west of Rockhampton, but as their grassy land slowly became barren, there was no hope left.

“Unfortunately they can’t survive on dirt,” Ms Thatcher said.

And while she called it the “hardest decision ever”, Ms Thatcher said it’s the famers who are on the brink of losing everything that need support more than herself as the drought continues to bite.

It’s an admirable mindset all too common across NSW and Queensland, with many, who’ve experienced lows most will never come close to, often selflessly saying there’s others who need assistance more than they do.

Central Coast volunteer Melissa Turner told Yahoo News Australia last month that she’s seen the devastation the drought is causing first hand as she and others regularly transport donated goods inland to those in need.

“They’re very appreciative of all we are doing, but are reluctant to accept help often, saying there’s always someone else worse off,” she revealed.

Ms Thatcher has become restless with the little action done to protect the farming industry and said the ongoing struggle needs immediate action and to be turned back around on state governments.

Ms Thatcher struggled to say goodbye to her cattle as the nation battles one of its worst ever droughts. Source: Supplied

“They put a great show in the media of how they visit farmers and spend a day [in drought-affected areas],” she said.

“But how many of them have actually been there when you have no choice but to put a bullet in your animals as they get to the point of no return?”

Federal water minister hits out at state governments

It is a sentiment that was echoed earlier this month by Federal Water Minister David Littleproud who lashed out at state governments for taking a back seat at the vital time.

Mr Littleproud said states had failed to plan in delivering water security, which he stressed is not a federal government responsibility.

"The states are doing three-fifths of bugger all in terms of building infrastructure to supply urban water as well as agricultural water," he told reporters in the South Australian town of Renmark last Sunday.

"We have to hold them to account."

Mr Littleproud questioned what eastern states had been doing.

"They've abrogated their responsibility on so many occasions," he said.

"They use us as their ATM when they hit a problem but they don't deserve sometimes to have the responsibility they have."

He said the federal government had made billions available to states for water infrastructure projects, such as dams, to deliver drought-proofing and environmental outcomes.

Of 19 dams built nationally since 2003, 16 have been in Tasmania.

Lack of water to fight bushfires

As a handful of the worst hit towns reach ‘Day Zero’, several in NSW and Queensland are facing a separate catastrophe in raging bushfires that have destroyed at least three homes.

Residents who used their own tank water to fight bushfires raging in the state have been assured it will be replaced by the government.

Above-ground water supplies in the border town of Stanthorpe were due to run out by the end of the year unless there was further rainfall, before fires hit the region on Friday.

Many dams in the Southern Downs region were dry before bushfires broke out and some residents used or gave firefighters access to their own precious water to keep flames at bay.

"We've heard of people who've had to empty their tanks or some of their tank's [drinking water] to help fight fires," says Stanthorpe woman Trish Cuthbert.

"The whole community is hurting. It's horrendous.

"Everyone is chipping in where they can, bringing food to the showground to feed the firies, donating time and water."

With AAP

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