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Principal at his wit’s end watching kids suffer through drought

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A principal from central-western NSW is completely devastated by the impact of the drought on the mental wellbeing of his students.

The principal of Trundle Central School, John Southon, says he hasn’t seen his local federal member, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, face-to-face in two years.

He says politicians have seemingly forgotten what’s unfolding in the bush, where farmers and their families are struggling through the worst drought in living memory.

Mr Southon tells Steve Price the 110 kids at his school are really suffering.

“They’ll talk to you about not seeing their dad for a couple of weeks because dad’s had to go away working.

“We’ve got our younger kids, some of them are starting to wet themselves at school and that’s just a sign of extreme stress.”

Although the Education Department has a code of conduct preventing employees from criticising the government, Mr Southon says he just doesn’t know what else to do.

“I’m committing career suicide by talking to you here because it’s just not done.

“But a man gets to the stage that you’ve just got to do something. You just can’t sit back and say this is okay.”

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Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack responded to the interview, telling Steve Price he has visited the town recently, but not the school.

“I know I’ve visited any number of communities, not just in my own electorate, but indeed throughout Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

“We’re trying as best we can to address the sorts of things that would help and make lives easier for these communities.”

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Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Member for Orange Phil Donato has also responded to what he called a “distressing and disturbing” interview with Mr Southon.

He tells Steve Price he was in Trundle a couple of months ago but has already made plans to return.

“I have spoken to John since I heard him on your program and I’m going out to the school again next Tuesday morning.

“I’m going to spend a few hours out there and I encouraged him to tell as many of the students and their families to hopefully get in.”

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Image: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images