HE is often cast as a politician out of touch with the people but landholders at the Charleville drought meeting saw the softer side of Joe Hockey when he responded with warmth to a tearful plea from a young producer last Thursday.
Brittany Stuart, 21, travelled with her parents, Cate and Mark Stuart, from their 20,250ha property, Mount Morris, 110km north west of Charleville, to attend a landholder meeting with the Federal Treasurer and Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce in Charleville last Friday.
But the youngster broke down while addressing the meeting, calling on the government to do more to ensure a future for young people in agriculture.
She left in tears but when the meeting concluded an hour later, the Federal Treasurer came looking for her.
“He just came out and gave me a hug and said I was a passionate young woman and that I shouldn’t ever loose that passion or let anyone stand over me,” she said.
“He said my parents were very proud of me.”
The exchange left Brittany with a new respect for the Treasurer whom she described as a “genuine” person.
“I really appreciated the fact that Joe took the time to come out and talk to us and I know everyone else in the room did,” she said.
“I think he really listened to us and I think his standing in the eyes of people in the rural community really moved up yesterday.”
Ms Stuart said she had wanted to impress upon the Ministers the need for urgent action to keep young people on the land.
“We don’t want rural properties being sold to foreign investors,” she said.
“We want to have a future and to that we need to fix the rural debt problem.
“It’s difficult for people to just live every day out here. Out at Thargomindah people are paying $6 for two litres of milk.
“They need to do something to fix it and help us get through it.”