Learning English - Words in the News
20 May, 2005 - Published 12:24 GMT
No rain in Australia
The Australian government is considering giving extra help to farmers fighting the worst drought in living memory. Almost half of the country's farmland is in drought and weather forecasters have warned that it's likely to get worse. This report from Phil Mercer:
Australia's Big Dry continues to tighten its grip. Much of the land is dying of thirst and has been reduced to dust. Many areas haven't had decent rainfall in months.
The prime minister, John Howard, has travelled to one parched corner of New South Wales where 90% of the state is in drought to see the struggles endured by one farming community. Mr Howard's government has spent more than half-a-billion dollars on drought relief and expects that figure to rise much further.
Some farmers have said the system is unfair because many families are ineligible for help if a wife or son, for example, has taken up work in a nearby town to try to make ends meet.
The cabinet will gather early next week to discuss possible changes and the prime minister appears to be sympathetic. "I admire Australian farmers," he said. "They're not whingers, they're doers," he added. Concerns have also been raised about an increase in depression among farming families, not to mention rising debt.
Weather forecasters have said there are early signs that this arid continent risks entering another El Nino episode in the months ahead, which is associated with drought in Australia.
Phil Mercer, BBC News, Sydney
tighten its grip
dying of thirst
has been reduced to dust
the struggles endured by
to make ends meet
another El Nino episode