The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI [11.15]: I wish to inform the House of a matter of serious concern to rural Australia. A recent poll conducted by Australian National Opinion Polls revealed a 67 per cent drop in pre-tax net farm incomes in 1990-91. It showed also that average farm production costs for various commodities have increased from between 86 per cent and 97 per cent during the past financial year. There has been a substantial downturn in farm incomes from an average of $212,000 in 1989-90 and $156,000 in 1990-91 to an estimated $142,000 in 1991-92. These are serious times for farmers, who are faced with rising production costs, falling income and an appalling drought. They are between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The Federal Government and the State Government have taken steps to provide assistance to farmers. Recently the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs announced a package that will go some way towards alleviating the serious situation facing our farmers. This is happening at a time when an attempted general strike was called. That is absolutely appalling. We should all pray for good rain and that next year's crops and markets are good.
The Hon. Judith Walker: What has that got to do with the strike?
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I am asked what this has to do with the strike.
The Hon. Judith Walker: Praying for rain, I mean. The Opposition will pray for rain.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I am pleased that the Hon. Judith Walker will also pray for rain. In these bad times every penny that the State can earn and can be used to assist farmers in rural New South Wales in particular, and Australia generally, is welcome. I trust that these matters will be given earnest consideration and that things will improve next year for farmers and their families.