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NSW drought coordinator Jock Laurie sacked less than a year into job

By state political reporter Ashleigh Raper, Wednesday November 6, 2019 - 14:43 EDT
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Jock Laurie previously said he would be an envoy between farmers and politicians. - ABC

The NSW Government has sacked its drought coordinator less than 12 months after his appointment by the Premier and will replace the role with a new office dedicated to drought.

Yesterday the ABC revealed Jock Laurie, a veteran grazier from Walcha in northern NSW, was no longer required by the Government.

The Premier's office appeared blindsided when the ABC requested information about Mr Laurie's dumping.

Almost 20 hours later the Deputy Premier's office responded saying the drought coordinator role had to be axed to make way for the "progression" to a dedicated Office of Drought Response.

"[It] will enable increased support for regional communities suffering during this prolonged drought," a spokesman for Deputy Premier John Barilaro said.

It remains unclear what prompted this change in governance and why Mr Laurie, who has also been the Water and Land Commissioner, will not be moving to the new office.

When Mr Laurie was appointed to the job in December, then-Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair described the coordinator as a "true friend of our farmers".

"Mr Laurie's advocacy, understanding of the need to protect soil and water, as well as strong relationships with all levels of government stand him in good stead to fulfil this critical role," Mr Blair said.

Previously serving as president of the National Farmers Federation, Mr Laurie's primary role as drought coordinator was to ensure no one was left behind in the rollout of the Government's billion-dollar response to the drought.

The role of drought coordinator was first established in 2015, with beef cattle producer Pip Job preceding Mr Laurie.

Almost the entire state is feeling the effects of prolonged drought over the past three years.

The latest map from the Bureau of Meteorology shows 35 per cent of the state is in "intense drought", in parts of the central west, north west and far west.


© ABC 2019

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