Our say | Strange timing for a rural property boom

THE apparent booming interest in Bathurst rural real estate perhaps explains – in part, at least - one of the difficulties farmers across the state are facing when it comes to this drought.

It could seem strange that during one of the more devastating dry times in recent memory that city buyers are showing more interest than ever in moving to the bush.

Or it could simply be proof that many in the city have no understanding of just how hard life on the land can be.

Farmers have been saying just that for years, particularly when it comes to politicians.

It is true that governments, on the whole, have been slow to react to the disaster taking place across much of our space.

The state government finally announced in June a package of measures designed to support farmers including one-off interest-free loans of up to $50,000 to bring in fodder and grain to sustain stock, but for many it was a case of too little, too late.

Instead it has largely been left up to private organisations and individuals to lead the appeal response to help rural communities survive.

Perhaps now we know why.

Many people living in the city seem to retain an idealised perception of life on the land that they have seen on television and movies and read in romantic poems.

They see rural life through a prism of Escape To The Country, A Country Practice and The Man From Snowy River.

And the fact is that many of the politicians running this state also come from the city and have spent most of their working careers within a stone’s throw of Macquarie Street.

So perhaps it is not callousness on their part that prevents them from acting sooner or for taking more seriously the warnings from their rural counterparts.

Rather, it may actually be that farmers are right when they say politicians simply do not understand.

Orange MP Phil Donato certainly struck a chord this week when he pledged to donate his annual pay rise – around $2500, after tax – to drought charity Aussie Helpers and called on other state and federal pollies to do the same.

Yes, it was a stunt, but if Mr Donato caught the attention of his colleagues then it was worth the effort.

Something has to be done to show politicians and city folk that there’s another darker side to farming.