Breaking the drought(s)

Opinion  |  Dean Johns
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | To Malaysians still celebrating a change of reign following a six-decade drought of good, honest government, the breaking, or at least bending, of the long drought afflicting my Australian state of New South Wales is hardly likely to constitute headline news.

Especially since Malaysia suffers more frequently from a surplus rather than a shortage of downpours, or in other words flash-floods rather than seemingly endless droughts.

But as an Australian, as I sit here trying to type my way out of my latest literary dry-spell, I’m elated at the fact that it’s bucketing down outside.

And not just here in Sydney, but all across this dangerously desiccated state.

Out Broken Hill way, for example, and on the neighbouring South-Western plains region that’s customarily so dry it’s commonly known as ‘Hell, Hay and Balranald’, they’ve had more rain in the past two days than in all the previous months of this year.

Of course, the farmers will need more follow-up rainfall, but at least the 50 to 90 ml they’ve received so far will go some way towards germinating pasture for starving stock, irrigating drought-stunted spring crops and replenishing dams that have long dwindled to nothing but dry mud.

Another boon to people outside the towns and cities is that all this moisture will have extinguished any of the recent bushfires that may still have been threatening their properties and delay if not prevent the outbreak of others.

And I’ve noticed that even my fellow city-dwellers haven’t started complaining about the rain thus far, as aware and as sympathetic as they are to the dire effects of the long drought on farmers and graziers, not to mention on the prices of the milk, meat, grains, fruit and vegetables they’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to produce.

As for myself in the most personal sense, I love the feeling of snugness indoors out of the rain; the deliciously soothing and sleep-inducing pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof and the sense of satisfaction at the sluicing of the streets, the refreshment of the parks and the deep soaking that the few walking-stick palms and other favourite plants I’ve been able to fit into my meagre garden.

But to turn from the personal to the political, rain or no rain, I’ve been delighted to see that the drought has given a good many farmers and rural groups free rein to complain about one of the key policies pursued by the National Party, formerly the Country Party, partner of the Liberal Party in Australia’s currently-reigning coalition....

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