Ben Shield's fears for the future of Dubbo in the worst drought in living memory has prompted his call for a free postage program for struggling retailers in regional communities.
The Dubbo Regional mayor has written to Member for Parkes Mark Coulton asking that the federal government consider implementing such a program.
The request follows Dubbo Regional Council's free postage program conducted from November 21 to December 5 last year.
In the 15 days the council gave $7268 to participating retailers to allow them to offer free postage to customers with 800 parcels dispatched to "almost every state in Australia".
It encouraged them to be part of the Buy from the Bush "phenomenon" and tap into wider markets.
"The proof is in the pudding," Cr Shields said.
"We had a very successful engagement with businesses and local Australia Post retailers in the Dubbo Region that was widely praised by local retailers.
"For obvious reasons, it is a program that local councils cannot run themselves in the long term.
"However, considering that the federal government owns Australia Post their involvement is more practical."
The mayor said if the government was able to run a similar support program on a larger scale, it had the potential to float local economies.
"The council-implemented program is proof that this type of financial support can open businesses up to a new customer base and can help them get through until the drought is over," he said.
Cr Shields is concerned regional economies will "struggle to recover without greater support".
"We know this drought is affecting more and more industries as it drags on," he said.
"It started with farmers and the agriculture industry and spread to the likes of nurseries and turf farms. Now hotels, cafes and local retailers are feeling the pinch."
The mayor said small communities had been hit hard for some time.
"Dubbo has been resilient but I fear that won't be the case forever," he said.
"If there is no end to the drought soon and no assistance from governments, I see 2020 as the year our region really starts to suffer.
"It will take time to recover even once the drought does break, but it will take even longer if retailers have closed their doors or left town."