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Katina Curtis, AAP Senior Political Writer
(Australian Associated Press)
Don’t be alarmed, but there are only 105 days until Christmas.
If that gets your mind racing to think up gift ideas, one federal politician wants you to think beyond the city shopping malls and out to towns struggling with drought.
NSW Liberal senator Hollie Hughes is preparing a campaign urging Australians to buy at least one Christmas present online from a business in a rural area.
“(I want) to try and encourage people to think outside their own Westfield shopping centre and buy a Christmas present online, support a business in a town that’s affected by the drought and start to put a bit of money back into the towns to keep things circulating,” she told AAP.
“It’s one thing with the farmers and getting the support to them, but there are a lot of businesses and families without land-based assets and it’s those businesses that quite often don’t survive these times.”
She’s already started talking to Moree toy store Robin’s Nest and a printing company, Simply Print Anything, based in several northern NSW towns about the campaign and hopes to get chambers of commerce and other businesses on board over the next few months.
And she talked over the idea with coalition colleagues when they met in Canberra on Tuesday, hoping to harness the megaphone politicians hold with their social media, websites and media exposure to promote the regional shops.
Her suggestions include buying presents for children, having Christmas cards or children’s school labels printed, or getting restaurant and accommodation vouchers for a mini-break.
Senator Hughes said farmers were eternal optimists with faith the rain will return any time now.
“We know it will happen, but what’s going to happen to these businesses that fail in the interim? They won’t come back when it does rain,” she said.
“What people don’t understand in the cities, when a small town loses a family, that can take the school down a size so that they lose a teacher or they lose a nurse.
“And then the whole trickle-through effect that that can have on a community and a town can really be ultimately devastating.”