A southern New South Wales truck driver has responded to the suggestion that the money donated for Burrumbuttock Hay Runners fuel costs be directed directly to drought-stricken communities, saying the visits meant so much more than a cash handout.
Last week Queensland Country Life reported on calculations done by Longreach businessman Danny Sheehan that showed it could have cost over $6000 to supply each of the 100 registered property owners with hay in the February drought relief effort to Muttaburra.
While appreciative of the gesture from southern parts of Australia, Mr Sheehan said if the cash had been redirected to vouchers to circulate around the community, it would have spread the benefit further.
The story brought a number of angry responses on social media, but it was Leeton sharefarmer and truck driver Scott Grigg who articulated the feelings of those involved when he said the issue wasn’t as simple as that.
“At the end of the day, if you give cash it gets filtered out and you can’t be sure where it ends up,” he said.
“It’s extremely hard to explain the importance of the hay runs to people who haven’t been on them, but the real point is that the hay is a vehicle to take us to the people.
“We’re not that arrogant or unaware to think the hay we take up will save all the stock from drought.
“It’s more about the social contact, to say we’re here to people, and to get them in meeting halls and talking to each other.
“We only need to save one human life to make it worthwhile.”
Scott said he had experienced drought himself and knew what it felt like from both points of view.
He said it was nice for people to be able to put their hand out and say “we’re here and we care”.
He has been on five hay runs, to Queensland as well as to Tilpa, Louth, Bourke and Collerenebri in NSW.
“We baled our own product. I’ve got no idea how much it cost – I didn’t care.
“When I went to Ilfracombe, I took my wife and we stayed in Longreach, like quite a few others, and had meals and visited the attractions.
“We don’t care about giving up our labour or the cost to our trucks.
“Narrowing it all down to money doesn’t reflect the value of the giving.”